I Experience Pain in My Side When Working Out Sometimes. Is It Normal?

Exercise should be a part of everyone’s lifestyle. As a health care advocate and travel enthusiast, I believe that incorporating regular physical exercise plays a big role in maintaining the overall state of one’s well-being. Working out two to three times a week not only helps maintain my ideal weight and body but also keeps me pumped up to doing more productive things mentally and physically.

Working out is an enjoyable thing to do but sometimes, when I do, my side hurts. I have been experiencing the same condition several times until the idea that something serious might be happening inside creeps up on me prompting me to seek medical advice. Here’s what I have discovered.

side stitch when working out

My doctor says that it is normal to experience side pain when working out. It is known as side stitch, a painful spasm of the diaphragm or under the lower edge of the rib cage. It is a common condition experienced by athletes and those who physically exert effort.

Although there is no known single reason for the occurrence of side stitches, there are some theories that explain their causes. One popular theory explains that it is due to the increased blood flow to the liver and spleen resulting to hepatomegaly and hypertension restricting blood flow to other parts of the body. The high pressure in the liver and spleen cuts the flow of blood causing hypoxia or loss of oxygen supply to the affected area.

Another suggested theory is due to shallow breathing which is commonly experienced by runners. Other theories point out to the pulling down of internal organs on the diaphragm, loss of blood supply to the diaphragm, imbalances of the spinal cord, irritation of the abdominal cavity, and strain on specific ligaments that lie along the abdominal area.

My doctor also mentioned that having proper nutrition is important as lack in calcium, potassium, and sodium, which are important electrolytes in our blood, can contribute to the condition. During work out, these electrolytes are rapidly depleted, thus, replenishing is essential to maintain normal body functions and avoid experiencing side stitch.

Side stitch working out

There is a chance that you would experience side stitch when you work out. The best way to get rid of experiencing the pain is prevention. We can prevent the occurrence of side stitch with these suggested simple tips:

  • Watch your food before exercise. A healthy balanced-diet with the right amount of protein, sodium, potassium, and calcium is essential before working out. Do not eat too little nor too much.
  • Do a warm up before working out to condition your body and prevent hypoxia.
  • Replenish lost fluid during work out. It is suggested that avoiding concentrated sugary drinks before work out is effective.
  • Like what your trainer tells you, regulate your breathing.
  • Do the dumbbell pullover exercise. This exercise is believed to help prevent the occurrence of side stitches. Here’s how to do it: Lie on your back on a weight bench; keep the small of your back flat against the bench. Slowly raise a dumbbell with your arms extended up and over your head. When you feel your lower back begin to rise off the bench, stop. Put your back in contact with the bench and slowly take some deep breaths. Then, bring the dumbbell back to the start position. Repeat this movement several times.
  • If you often experience the condition while working out, it is best to consult your doctor or see a physical therapist to examine and assist you with the possible treatment.

There you go. Working out should be an enjoyable thing to do, but sometimes we experience this painful activity killer in our side. Experiencing a side stitch is normal when you work out. To help prevent its occurrence, try doing these preventive measures and get away from this painful condition when working out.

Vinz Eusala

A travel enthusiast, adventurer, wander thinker, and photographer wannabe who wakes up every morning and thinks everyday above ground is a great day. Offer him pizza and milk tea and you're friends for life.