Photographed by Winnie Au.
Laces tied? Check. Water bottle filled? Check. Music player charged? Check. Dealing with unbearable, stabbing pains below your ribs within the first mile of your run? Ouch, pass.
The cause behind this common runner's dilemma — also known as "side stitches" — is still up for debate. Some theories link it to pressure on the diaphragm or tugging the ligaments attached to your internal organs. Either way, the pain is definitely not invited to go on your morning run.
Unfortunately, side stitches are common. A study by the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport found that 27% of runners who competed in a 14k race suffered from the pain. So, what’s a runner to do?
Breathe, that’s what. Exercise physiologist Janet Hamilton tells Women’s Health that a runner’s breathing pace could be the key. Instead of having an equal number of breaths in and out, she suggests a specific ratio that can help prevent lower-body injuries. The formula is breathing in a 3:2 or 2:3 fashion. Keep this on your mental checklist the next time you’re heading out for a run, and you might just find yourself breathing a sigh of relief.