Top Tips to Beat the Stitch

You are pounding away and on for a PB when the dreaded stitch bites and sometimes, there can be no pain like it.

We’ve created the Virtual Runner top tips to get rid of a stitch when running and smash those PBs.

What Causes A Stitch When Running?

Stitches can afflict runners of all abilities, and they occur following spasm of the diaphragm, often a result of fatigue.  

However, the treatment and prevention is very easy.

If you are experiencing stitches whilst training, here are our top tips to beat the stitch:

Manage Fuel

Before you go on a run, avoid eating one to two hours before training and increase your water intake. If you’re regularly experiencing stitches, experiment with what you eat before running to see if you can find something that works for you. As a rule, eat lightly before a run.

Warm Up

Don’t just go from stationary to your full running speed – ensure you properly warm up before a run with dynamic stretching or by beginning with a brisk walk and slowly speeding up.

Deep Breaths

If a stitch strikes, slow down your pace and take several deep breaths. In our blog on mental strategies to help with running, one of the most important techniques was learning to breathe properly, in sync with your strides.

Regulating your breathing in this way won’t just boost your mental concentration, it’ll help you avoid a stitch too – shallow breaths can lead to a stitch.

Apply Pressure

If you’re stopped by a stitch, press your first two fingers in and slightly upward directly where it hurts and hold for ten seconds. While pressing in and up, take more deep breaths. This should help get rid of it, meaning you can get back to running!


If you have a side stitch on your right hand side, raise your right hand and lean to the left and stretch. It can also help to bend forward with your upper body. When you are relieved of the stitch begin to walk, then gradually pick up your pace.

Keep Running

Stitches tend to disappear with improved fitness as your diaphragm becomes used to the work, so keep up the good work and keep running!

Check out our blog for more helpful running hints and tips!