Researchers find a solution to the stitch

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Researchers from New Zealand have provided an insight into what causes the stitch and how you can prevent it. They tested a theory first put forward in the early 1940’s, which proposes that the stitch is caused by the gut “tugging” on the ligaments connecting it to the diaphragm.

Subjects were given a number of different fluids that digested at different speeds. According to the ligament theory, the pain of the stitch should remain high with fluids that digest slowly. Fluids digesting quickly should reduce the weight of the gut - easing the pain of the stitch. The results tended to support the theory. Fluids digesting slowly led to an increase in stitch intensity that was more than double that of the fast digesting drinks. The study also revealed several strategies designed to relieve the stitch, (if you suffer from them!) There were three that proved most effective:

1. Wait 2-3 hours before exercising after a large (1 litre or more) drink or meal.

2. When you get a stitch, bend forward and tighten your abdominal muscles, while breathing out through pursed lips. The lower position of the diaphragm and increased contraction of the abdominals are designed to reduce tension on the ligaments.

3. Try wearing a light wide belt around your waist, such as the Maximuscle Neoprene Belt. This is designed to move your abdominal contents upward and inward, reducing tension on ligaments between gut and diaphragm.

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