Why Do We Experience Side Stiches Without Exercise?


Stitch In Side Without Exercise

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Have you ever experienced an intense stabbing pain just under the side of your ribcage? If yes, you must have wondered: why, why, why does that happen?

The stabbing pain you feel on the side of your stomach is called a “stitch”. It often occurs when doing any type of sport. However, there is no precise reason known yet as to why you begin to feel a side stitch without physical exercise.

Now you may be asking: how long does this terrible pain last?! Well, there is no specific answer to that, since our bodies react and recover differently. However, in most cases, side stitches can last for a few minutes to even weeks!

What Causes Side Stitches?

Scientists have not yet found the cause of this irritation. However, that doesn’t stop them from speculating.

Here are a few theories why side stitches happen:

  • Increased blood flow: an increase in blood flow to your organs, mainly the liver. This higher flow leads to your heart rate increasing, which in turn forces more blood into the liver.
  • Diaphragm contracting: when breathing your diaphragm contracts and expands allowing your body to move air. However, when exercising or walking your diaphragm has to contract a lot faster, which can cause it to strain.
  • Forceful movement: running, walking, jumping or any other sport whether intense or not can cause your diaphragm to contract. The theory is that the diaphragm holds the organs from moving around too much.
  • Peritoneum: the most likely explanation is the peritoneum. Its job is to help support the organs, but when there is no fluid in between the organs this can cause that stabbing pain we all hate.

Beyond these main theories, there are many more ideas as to why this happens.

One example is breathing incorrectly. As mentioned above, breathing happens when your diaphragm contracts and expands. But what happens if you breathe incorrectly?

If you are taking small breaths, which can happen while exercising, your body is not getting enough oxygen. This means your cells can’t breathe properly, thus causing a shortage of air for your main organs.

Stitches Without Exercise?

Stitch In Side Without Exercise

Image source: menshealth.com

Now we know that side stitches can be caused by running, jumping or even walking, but did you know you can get side cramps without physical activity?

Yup, you read that correctly… you can get side stitches without even EXERCISING!

Eating Too Much

First off, eating too much can be to blame. Excessive eating causes your stomach to expand and presses against other organs. This pressure can cause the sharp pain under your ribcage.

The smart thing to do is eat lightly and avoid heavy meals at all cost, especially before workouts.

Eating Poorly

In addition, to eating lightly you MUST eat correctly. Otherwise, you may get complications like kidney stones. It may seem unlikely, kidney stones can cause side stitches too.

This condition often happens when you have a diet which contains not enough calcium. Increasing calcium intake is part of a proper diet. Reducing salt intake can also be beneficial because high sodium can lead to higher amounts of calcium in your urine.

Food Poisoning

Food poisoning is another reason why you may feel pain in the side of your stomach. Some foods which are poorly prepared or out of date can trigger a reaction from your body.  Your body reacts as you ate something you shouldn’t have and forces it to remove itself.

The physical strain can cause stitches and an overall unpleasant experience.

Other reasons why you may experience side stitches:

  • Dehydrated: drinking water is as important as breathing. Try to drink around 2 liters per day. Staying hydrated allows your body to keep reproducing cells in the body, such as the fluid between your organs.
  • Appendicitis: if you feel a sharp pain in the lower right part of abdominal muscle, this could be your appendix rupturing. This sensation is often confused with side stitches. You should definitely see a doctor if the pain is unbearable.
  • Ovarian cysts: Women may experience pain from the left ovary. It can be caused by irregular menstrual cycles among other things.
  • Obstructions in the intestines: definitely a scenario you don’t want to happen, but in the event that it does go directly to the emergency room. The blockage won’t allow anything to pass through causing immense pain in the stomach as well as lower right abdominal pain.

How To Cure Stitches Quickly?

There are a number of different ways you can save yourself from such intense pain. However, not all of them work all of the time. Test various treatments and you will find your best method to use.

Massage the Area Which Hurts

When a stitch occurs, massage the area that hurts or apply pressure on it. This action which will ease the pain a little bit. Also, bend a little forward when applying pressure to get better results.

Breathe Correctly

A common method to use when you have side aches is to breathe in through your mouth and exhale through your nose. Another great method is to breathe in and out deeply through your mouth.

Stretch the Right Muscles

Bicep, hamstrings and calf muscles are all important to stretch out, but did you know that stretching your diaphragm is just as important?

A great stretching exercise is to put your hands in the air (try to reach as far as you can) and lean over to one side holding your posture for 10 to 30 seconds.

(Also read: Is it Safe to Go Running With a Chest Infection)

Final Verdict

Nobody knows why exactly side stitches happen.  But we do know some tricks how to get rid of them. Trial and error will produce the best treatment for you.

In addition to getting side pains while exercising, you can also get side stitches without exercising, which can be the cause of many life-threatening symptoms (e.g. kidney stones, appendix rupturing).

Although they are less common, any extended or extreme paint must be checked by a doctor.