Most of us have experienced the sharp and uncomfortable pain caused by a stitch or a cramp.
But what's the difference and how can you prevent them?
Stitches, also known as “exercise related transient abdominal pain” present in sports that require repetitive torso movement, most commonly in running and horse riding but also in swimming, aerobics and cycling. Although it is unclear, evidence suggests that loss of blood supply to the diaphragm and stress on the ligaments surrounding our organs is the probable cause. Stitches are more common in younger athletes and those that are less fit. There are a few ways that you can prevent the onset of a stitch:
The exact cause of cramps is also unclear. One of the likely causes is muscular overload or fatigue due to a lack of conditioning. These types of muscle cramps can be resolved with stretching, massage or icing of the affected muscles. Ways to prevent these include:
Although clinical evidence is still lacking, the second likely cause for cramps is a sodium deficit within the body, mostly seen in athletes. Findings suggest that these cramps are due to exercising in a heated environment and/or over-exertion causing increased sweating. Exertional cramps can be avoided through careful matching of daily salt and fluid intake. Athletes should hydrate throughout their competition or training, avoid drinking caffeinated drinks and be aware of the signs of heat illness.
Although further research into the causes of cramps and stitches is required, it is clear that those who are active need to stay hydrated both during and after exercise. We need to be steadily progressing our training load and ensuring adequate fitness prior to commencing sport or a new exercise program.
If you are concerned about or need advice on any of the above please do not hesitate to call us to book an appointment on 9970 7982, or alternatively book online.
Bentley, S. 1996. Exercise-induced muscle cramp. Proposed mechanisms and management. Sports Med. vol. 21, iss. 6, pp. 409-20.
Bergeron, M. 2008 Muscle Cramps during Exercise- Is it Fatigue or Electrolyte Deficit?. Current Sports Medicine Reports. Vol. 7, iss. 4, pp. 50-55.
Morton, D., Callister R. 2000 Characteristics and etiology of exercise-related transient abdominal pain. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. vol. 32, iss. 2, pp. 432-438.
Zieler, T. 2016. Treating and Preventing Muscle Cramps During Exercise. http://www.sportsmd.com/performance/treating-preventing-muscle-cramps-exercise/