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How to Avoid Side Stitches

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Side stitches and cramps are a runner's nemesis -- here's how to handle them when they happen, and tips for avoiding them completely.
Question: "How can I avoid side stitches and cramps when I run?"

Answer: The moment you feel the cramp, take a big breath, as if sucking air through a straw; then exhale forcefully, as if blowing up a balloon. This should alleviate cramping in the diaphragm. Side stitches are common in novice runners or anyone who overexerts herself, so don’t try to go too fast, too soon. Drinking too much water or eating gas-producing foods like broccoli before you go for a run can also contribute to the problem.

Shelly-Lynn Florence Glover is an exercise physiologist in New York City and co-author of The Competitive Runner's Handbook. (Penguin, 1999).

Originally published in Fitness magazine.


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