That dreaded side stitch or running cramps are preventable. Running or jogging requires an increase in oxygen demand. You will meet that demand with this simple breathing exercise…
If you don’t get enough air going into your lungs to supply your muscles, your body will fight back. This is because failing to get enough oxygen results in a drop of oxygen at the cellular level. What you are experiencing are the muscles on your side screaming for air. The immediate solution is to supply the oxygen. You can do this two ways:
Running cramps are more likely to affect the beginner runner. When just starting jogging you are building up your cardiovascular endurance from a point (near zero in some cases). This is an adaption process. Your body will adapt, new capillaries are created deeper into your tissues to meet output demands.
Another cause of cramps from running is improper breathing. Running requires a large oxygen uptake amount. More than can be supplied by your “at rest” breathing method. When breathing at rest, you will notice your chest rises up and down as your lungs fill with air. More than likely, you also breathe through your nose when not exerting yourself.
This works at rest, but not during physical activity. Even singers need to adjust their breathing during performances to be able to hold that long note.
Lie flat on the floor. Place a moderate sized book on your abdomen. Notice your breathing. Does your chest rise and fall with each breath? Or, is it your abdomen that moves up and down when you breathe?
You are able to take in more air when you breathe through your mouth. The nasal passages are too narrow to supply you enough air when you are working hard. Therefore, the first thing you need to do is make sure you are breathing through your mouth. Check this out for yourself. Try breathing first through your nose and then through your mouth noting the difference. Do you notice you are getting more air into your lungs easier when you breathe through your mouth?
The second thing to change is to breath so that your abdomen rises moving that book. Practice this until you get used to it. Notice how much more air you take in when using this method. It will become second nature and running cramps a distant memory.