Thursday, February 07, 2008

Let's Talk Stitches Part II

So we know my general stitch history and I really think it provides some clues to the source of the problem. This time I'd like to talk about how the stitches feel and maybe that will provide more clues. Basically, I experience three types of stitches: the minor stitch; the major stitch; and the dehydration stitch. I discuss them each below.

My Stitch Types

minor stitch for me feels like just a little heaviness on the right side just under my ribcage. It usually comes on while running easy. It either starts early on in the run or pops up later in the run. When a minor stitch comes on early in the run, I often I feel awkward on these runs, overly conscious of my breathing and posture. If it comes later in a run it's usually windy and often it's at the end of an interval workout. This is the kind of stitch I most often get.

Sometimes a minor stitch goes away fairly quickly, but usually it takes a couple of miles to stretch it out and then to forget about it for it to completely go away at some point mid-run. Othertimes, particularly during the Boston Marathon, a minor stitch seemed to go away only to come back as a major stitch towards the end of the race.

A major stitch is one that feels like a stabbing pain in the same spot. It prevents me from standing straight and it impairs my breathing. I tend to have soreness in the spot after I stop running and this soreness can last for several days. They have tend to be preceded by a very short minor stitch feeling before seizing up. Often the major stitch develops from the minor stitch after a sharp turn, a strong headwind, or a downhill during a hard run, like a tempo run or a race. I have to stop to get rid of it. It cannot be run through. I've tried and it just makes it worse and I end up very sore in the spot under my right ribs for days afterward.

Dehydration stitches are not isolated to the spot under my right ribs like the other ones are. It feels more like a typical muscle cramp and I usually feel it in multiple spots of my abdomen. They typically occur after a hard workout on my cool down and can occasionally pop up on a recovery. They seem to be triggered by pace changes and they typically do not leave me sore after I stop running.

So these are the three types of stitches I tend to get. Perhaps my abdominals are a weak point in my body and tend to be the first thing to go when I'm pushing my body? Some people get calf cramps, maybe I get ab cramps?

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