3. Side Stretch
Side stitches are a common complaint among runners. Although the cause of these annoying pains is unclear, fitness author Stew Smith, CSCS, says you can help prevent them by stretching your torso before running. You can do this from a standing position, or, as athletic performance coach Hannah Schultz recommends, you can add a side stretch to a kneeling hip flexor stretch. HOW TO DO IT: Bring your arms up over your head and, keeping your abdominals tight, lean to the right and then to the left, bending at the waist. “That is going to work lateral flexion of the torso, which helps open up the hip flexors in a side-to-side range of motion,” Schultz says. Do this movement dynamically, holding for one or two breaths on each side to warm up the muscles of the midsection.