Dealing With Injuries That Aren’t Really Injuries

Most runners have experienced the dreaded black toenail at some point during their running life. Photo: www.shutterstock.com

Cramps And Side Stitches

Cramps and side stitches are an “injury” that every runner will experience at least once, if not multiple times, in training. Researchers believe side stitches are actually spasms in the diaphragm or the ligaments that support the diaphragm.

The exact cause of this spasm could be general tiredness or overuse, just like any other muscle used while running; or there could be increased demand on the diaphragm, like when you eat a large meal before your workout.

Treatment And Prevention
Most conventional wisdom says slow down, stretch, and wait until the ache subsides. Great advice when you’re not in the middle of a race or an important workout. Luckily, here’s a great way to eliminate cramps while running — force your stomach to do the opposite of what it naturally wants to do, which is expand when you breathe in and contract when you breathe out.

RELATED: How Do I Prevent Side Stitches?

To visualize this, place your hand on your stomach while you take deep breaths. You’ll notice your stomach expand (press against your hand) when you breathe in and contract when you breath out. Simply reverse this process and contract your stomach when you breathe in and try to press your stomach against your hand when you breathe out.

It’s a little difficult to get the hang of at first, but practice a few times and it will become easier. Once you’ve got the rhythm down, make your breaths deep and forceful, taking all the air in that you can and then letting it out forcefully. You’ll still have to slow a little at first because of the change in breathing rhythm, but you won’t have to stop completely. The more you do it, the better you’ll get and the more efficient at relieving cramps you’ll become.

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