Friday, November 21, 2008

Running with a Stitch?

Remember that painful discomfort just under your ribcage? That is what you call the stitch. When we were still kids, I'd often hear adults warn us not to run right after a meal because we would get an "appendix" (a term commonly used to mean appendicitis). Of course, we never heeded the advise of the adults and would still proceed on running and then one of us would suddenly come crouched down with a stitch and he would be shouting, "I have an appendix!" Of course, he has an appendix. All human beings have an appendix unless you've gone through the surgical removal called appendectomy.

Anyway, we all knew that the stitch does fade away with rest and did not warrant any surgical intervention. It is just interesting to note that the actual physiology of a stitch is actually caused by spasm of the diaphragm. I never really encountered that in medical school. Perhaps it was too benign to be included in our discussions. But for a runner, this can be detrimental especially if it hits you when you are crucially competing and nearing the end of the race. So what can you possibly do about it? The Complete Running Manual advises that you take in deep breaths with your chest and stomach and blow it out deeply as well using your abdomen. If this does not work, you can raise your arms above your head and slow down to a walk. If still this does not work, you may press through the stitch with your fingers which may bring temporary relief. But it does go away in time and definitely it is not your appendix that's causing the problem.