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My daughter runs cross country and is often plagued by side stiches during practice and meets.  Unlike normal side stiches, hers extend from her rib cage to her knee and do NOT go away after she stops running.  Of course, during a meet, she has to keep going, and the pain gets intense, so maybe that is why they take so long to dissipate.  I am wondering if something like an ovarian cyst could cause this kind of wide spread pain.  I only consider it a possibility because she is so irregular with her cycle, despite being 16, well developed and not growing anymore.  Thoughts?


Hello DEBM,

What causes side stitches is no well understood.  What they think is going on is that the runner eats to soon before running or perhaps they run too fast.  Some believe it has to do with drinking sugar drinks before they run and yet others think it has to do with the curvature of the spine.  Interestingly, the literature states that drinking while running does not cause side stitches.

There are some things you can do to try and prevent side stitiches. Try to avoid eating within an hour of the time you're going to run and drink plain water.   Hopefully as a runner you know to warm up before you run and avoid shallow breathing when you are running.  Breathe deeply by way of your mouth using your abdominal muscles to help you.  Cold temps can generate side stitiches so to take deep breaths you should place a scarf over your mouth to maintain a warmer air exchange.  Make sure you are holding a good running posture.   I hope this was helpful and good running to you.