Three-minute fix . . . Stitch

It’s the throbbing pain in your side that all runners dread: the stitch. Yet it shouldn’t take more than a few minutes to fix. Nick Mitchell, founder of personal training company Ultimate Performance, recommends tackling it in two ways.

First, bend over for a few seconds, and touch your toes. If that doesn’t work, dig a couple of fingers into the affected flank. We don’t know exactly why these cures work, says Mitchell, but he reckons it’s something to do with the way the blood flows away from your diaphragm (in the first example), or is simply prevented from entering the pained area (in the second).

To avoid a stitch altogether, Mitchell suggests staying away from wheat-based foods, such as bread and muesli in the lead-up to your run. “Don’t have a bowl of muesli, milk and banana before going for a jog,” he says. Instead, he advocates eating a few dried berries and nuts half an hour before you set off.

Stitches occasionally affect elite athletes, says Mitchell, but they will have developed mental processes to help them zone out the pain so they can carry on regardless. But there are no hard-and-fast ways for the amateur sportsmen and women among us to replicate these techniques. “Just toughen up!” advises Mitchell.

Nick Mitchell, of Ultimate Performance, was talking to Patrick Kingsley. For more, go to

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