So far this year, I seem to have witnessed a lot of these, even managed to dish out seven of them in one day this week! Personally I can't remember the last time I felt the pain of a stitch, which is probably why my sympathy levels are generally very low, when a client gets one...
What is a stitch?
A stitch is an intense stabbing abdominal pain under the lower edge of the ribcage that occurs during exercise. I’ve no idea why it’s called a stitch but in real basic terms, it is a form of muscle cramp.
What causes them?
The exact cause of a stitch is unclear but generally they are associated with more rapid/heavier breathing through activity. Again trying to keep it simple…if a stitch is a form of muscle cramp, cramps normally occur when a muscle is used more than it has been recently.
From my running days, one theory was that the weight of organs (stomach, spleen and liver etc) pulling on ligaments, created a ‘cramp’ in the diaphragm. As the diaphragm a is major respiratory muscle located below the lungs, it seemed feasible to me that this cause a stitch.
How to get rid of them
Normally slowing down, breathing deeply, stretching, and pushing on the muscles effected does the trick. Most seem to go within minutes, once the intensity of the activity has dropped.
How to avoid them
Avoid eating a big meal before you training
Avoid sugary drinks
Don’t overdue it
Increase core strength
Alternatively…You could stop trying to punch me so hard but in a way that defeats the object and is nowhere near as much fun :D