The term intercostal stitch refers at that sharp pain, of short period, localized under the ribs. The cause of this pain is a spasm of the diaphragm muscle. This spasm occurs when the muscle doesn’t receive the necessary quantity of oxygen it needs in order to function. The muscle is localized between the abdomen and the thorax. It frequently appears at the ones who run a lot.
Stitches can occur even when you are walking or laughing. Below, you will find several methods that will help you deal with them:
- Does it hurt? You should better stop from what you’re doing in that moment. The muscle must relax.
- If the stitch occurs while you are running slow down and walk. It is enough to do this and your contracted muscle will relax. You can run again when the pain is gone.
- Use compressing by using three fingers for the area that hurts you a lot, for as long as the pain lasts. You can massage that area and you will notice that the pain will cease.
- Another method is to profoundly expire while you massage the painful area at the diaphragm level. Take a deep breath and then strongly expire. Do this again and again. This exercise imitates a yoga technique which massages the muscle in the interior by these repeated motions.
- After strong inspiration and expiration slow down these movements until you reach the rhythm that you usually have.
- Prevent the reappearance of these stitches by doing an abdominal breathing. While you breathe look at your body and observe what is moving. If only the rib cage is moving then your breathing is only at the thorax level. In order to exercise your diaphragm muscle you must learn that while breathing you have to move both the thorax and the abdomen. Inspire and expire in order to engage your abdomen in motion.
- Before doing physical exercises you must also warm up your diaphragm, as any other muscle. So, before starting the exercises or the running, massage your diaphragm as mentioned above: strongly inspire and expire. You can do this warm up like this: lay down the floor, put one hand on the rib cage and the other on the abdomen and breathe. Your both hands must move inside and out. The spasm is not likely to occur when the diaphragm is warmed up.
- The intercostal stitch is caused by a spasm of the diaphragm, but even the flatus can give a similar sensation. It is indicated to go to the toilet before making exercises, because during the activity the digestion process can be stopped. Athletes are told that two hours before the race they should not eat food. If you are predisposed to intercostal stitches pay attention at what you are eating before doing exercises and do not forget to go to the toilet.