How to Avoid Stomach Cramps When Running

A Marine asked about running during the USMC three mile run.

Here is his question:

“Every time I run hard to get a good score on the three 3 mile PFT, or when I’m training for the test, I get a stomach cramp or side stitch about half way in the three mile timed run. My question is – what can I do to prevent it and what can I do to stop the pain or lessen it?”

Running with stomach cramps is never fun, but there are ways to lessen or work through the pain – or even prevent the cramps altogether.

First, it is still a big mystery to many physiologists and doctors as to what is the real cause of stomach cramps. The experts have theorized that the common side stitch is caused by the exertion that running and bouncing forces inside the abdominal walls. Basically, your stomach and other organs – like the spleen and liver – bump into each other as your feet jar the ground causing connective tissue to stretch on the nerves and cause pain.

This connective tissue is also attached to your diaphragm which helps with breathing. This pain is usually on the right side and just under the ribs. Exercise like horseback riding, running, and sit-ups are common causes of the side stitch.

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