Science Questions

Sat, 9th Oct 2004

Part of the show Spinal Injuries, and Brain Repair

Question

Clive asked:

what is a stitch, what causes it and how can we deal with it?

Answer

Well the answer is Clive, a stitch is not due to muscle paralysis or anything like that, it's actually because of things tugging on your diaphragm which is the domed muscle which sits above your stomach and below your lungs, and contracts to expand your chest and pull air in. It has some ligaments, which attach it to the organs underneath it, including the liver which is very heavy, and the stomach. When you get running those organs start to bounce up and down a bit and when they tug on those ligaments they can make them quite uncomfortable and that's why you tend to get a worse stitch when you're running having just eaten, because the stomach is much heavier and puts a lot more pressure on your diaphragm. One cure, I'm told, is if you change step - switch so that you breathe in when the other foot hits the ground. This can reduce the stretch applied to the ligaments, and reduce the discomfort.

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