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  • You're running, here in the last quarter of the marathon.

  • You're a beast! You're a champion! You are incredible!

  • But then, suddenly, you feel this sharp pain in your side.

  • It seems to get worse and worse with every breath.

  • It is an attack of the side stitch!

  • And now you have to stop running for a while so it goes away.

  • But don't worry, you are not alone.

  • A study in the year 2000 found that 69% of runners had experienced a stitch, otherwise known as an exercise-related transient abdominal pain, in the last year.

  • And people who exercised in other ways, like swimming or bike riding, also reported having gotten a stitch.

  • But even though they're so common, researchers aren't really sure where the pain comes from.

  • Remarkable that we don't know these things, even about our own bodiesone possibility is that it's all about your diaphragm, the domed-shaped muscle between your chest and abdomen.

  • When your diaphragm contracts, your lungs expand and fill with air.

  • When your diaphragm expands, your lungs get smaller and the air is forced back out.

  • But when you exercise, you might be overextending that muscle.

  • When you're running, for example, your foot consistently hits the pavement at the same time as you exhale.

  • When your diaphragm is at its highest and tightest, it might strain the diaphragm, causing it to spasm.

  • It could also be that forceful movement, like the up-and-down motion of running, bounces your internal organs around, straining the ligaments trying to keep them from sliding around inside youwhich is a really gross thought.

  • The most likely explanation seems to point to the peritoneum, a two-layered membrane that lines the abdominal wall and helps support your organs.

  • Now, normally, there's fluid in between the layers that make sure they don't scrape together too much.

  • Because when they do, you end up with that sharp pain.

  • When you eat a large meal, your stomach pushes out on the inner layer, and when you are dehydrated, like if you've been sweating a lot from exercising, there's less fluid between the layers.

  • The way your body is moving around might bump the layers against each other, too.

  • So, how do you make the pain go away?

  • First, just stop exercising for a bitthe pain will eventually pass.

  • Unless it doesn't, in which case, go see your doctor, because I'm not a doctor.

  • And if you want to make sure it doesn't happen again, it's probably worth listening to your mom's advice: Wait a little while after a big meal before jumping in the pool or going out for a run.

  • Working to strengthen your core might help, too.

  • That should reduce the movement in your abdomen while you're exercising, meaning less strain on your ligaments and membranes.

  • This way, your internal organs and all the stuff inside your abdominal cavity can stay right where it's supposed to be without causing stitches that might slow you down.

  • Thanks for asking and thanks especially to all of our patrons on Patreon who keep these answers coming.

  • If you would like to submit questions to be answered, and get these Quick Questions a few days before everybody else, you can go to

  • And don't forget to go to and subscribe!

You're running, here in the last quarter of the marathon.

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