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Located between the pelvis and the ribs, the obliques help the trunk rotate and bend.
A common source of pain for runners is the area under the right side of the ribs. The most frequent cause is transient abdominal pain, colloquially known as a side stitch. Despite being located in similar areas, stitches and oblique pains -- which are often a sign of an underdeveloped core -- are different issues. Before attempting a course of action, be sure to determine which one you're facing.
During a run, your obliques ensure the stability of your torso and reduce the amount of stress placed on your hamstrings. Sore oblique muscles are often just a sign that they were engaged during your run; you often can alleviate the soreness with the proper pre- and post-workout stretch. An underdeveloped core places unnecessary stress on the spine, which contributes to back pain, so runners often supplement their cardio with core workouts. Stiffness, pain, swelling and muscle spasms are symptoms of a torn or otherwise injured oblique muscle, and you should consult a doctor before continuing your exercise regime.
Strengthen Your Obliques With a Core Workout
Targeting the obliques during a core workout may be simpler than you realize. The side plank with leg lift, which targets your entire oblique area, requires no equipment. Get down on the floor on your left side, stacking your feet on each other and supporting yourself with your left hand. Lift your hips up so your feet, hips and shoulders are aligned. Make sure your butt and chest are not sticking out. Straighten your left arm and extend your right arm vertically so your arms create a straight line. Hold this for as long as you can, aiming for one minute. Alternate sides. Once the side plank becomes easier, add the leg lift: Raise your upper leg, hold it for a second and then slowly return it to its starting position.
Although medical science has yet to pinpoint an exact cause for side stitches, sports doctors generally agree that the experience and fitness level of the athlete affect the intensity of the pain. Stitches differ from oblique pain in that the sensation is akin to a sharp pinch and fades quickly after you come to a halt. Those who are new to running can look forward to a gradual decrease of symptoms if they take the correct preventive measures and continue to exercise. If seasoned runners encounter stitches, the most common cause is dietary: too large, too fatty or even just too close to the run.
Side Stitch Treatment and Prevention
The easiest way to prevent side stitches is to control your breathing and ensure that you hydrate adequately before and during your run. If you are new to running, don't focus too much on the breathing -- as your body adapts to training, your breathing becomes less labored and the frequency and intensity of side stitches decreases. If you think your pre-workout meal or snack is the cause of your side stitch, experiment by cutting down on fat or portion size or changing when you eat. If you still encounter problems, consider meeting with a nutritionist to discuss a new plan. When a side stitch stops you in your tracks, you may be tempted to run through it. Instead, stop running, take several deep breaths, raise your arms in the air and then bend sideways at the waist. Hold this pose for 15 seconds, and then bend in the opposite direction. Continue this until the stitch vanishes, breathing deeply all the while.