Is stitch holding you back from your exercise goals? Get rid of it now

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If your workout is affected by painful cramps it's time to do something about it...

Stomach pain IBS

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Nothing beats the feeling of finishing a great workout, but it's hard to reach your goals when you're doubled over with stitch.

No one really knows what causes the typical side stitch. Some argue it is caused by the weight of the liver and stomach pulling downwards on tendons and ligaments in the diaphragm, but this doesn't explain why swimmers get the same stabbing pains.

Other experts think it is caused by the contraction of the liver, which squeezes extra oxygen into the blood stream, or a build up of lactic acid in the muscles.

So how can you prevent it? Fitness First personal trainer, Tom Eastham, suggests drinking half a litre of water one hour before running and not eating anything within this hour.

Controlling your breathing is also vital during aerobic exercise, especially running. If you're on the treadmill breathe in and out in time with your stride to build up a comfortable rhythm.

If you've got painful stabbing pains in your right side, the experts at Sweatshop recommend overemphasising your left foot strike and exhaling hard at the same time. This is thought to encourage your diaphragm to bounce in synchronisation with your stride, which helps prevent spasms.

Here are a few other stitch relieving tricks to get you back to your best...

+ Reach both your arms into the air and stretch out your body to release the diaphragm. If you can, do this while you're still running and maintain the stretch for 30 seconds.

+ When you've started exercising, avoid taking huge gulps of water and stick to small regular sips instead.

+Release tension by checking your posture. Are you running with your fists clenched and your shoulders hunched? Shake out and relax your body as much as possible.

+ Press the painful area with your hand and massage the pain as you move. Applying force to the stitch should loosen up the tense area and relieve the worst of the stabbing pains.

Don't let stitch make you give up on your fitness goals. Run through it, stay motivated and add a few core strength exercises to your workout to prevent future cases.

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