A brief pain in the lower right quadrant of your abdomen experienced after running can cause concern. It may take you out of your run and cause you to hobble home. In many cases, it's a simple side stitch that resolves on its own. If you continue to experience the pain long after you run or consistently during future runs or other exercise, consult your physician for a workup.
Side stitches affect about 70 percent of runners at some point in their journey, reported Competitor in 2015. You can't predict when one will come on, and when it does, the discomfort ranges from mild to run-stoppingly severe. Sometimes, side stitches don't appear until you stop running. The lower right quadrant of the abdomen is just one place you'll feel a side stitch; they can also manifest in the middle of the abdomen, on the left or right side or high or low in the abdomen.
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Core of the Problem
AJ Gregg, a chiropractic doctor and head of Hypo2 High Performance Sport Center in Arizona, told Competitor that he believes the parietal peritoneum could be the primary culprit behind the side stitch. This membrane encases your trunk and abdomen. When you get tired as you run, the core muscles check out and the back muscles start to compensate. The back muscles then press on nerves in your abdomen, sides and sometimes the shoulder -- causing pain in your side. Core exercises may help strengthen the region and ward off future incidences.
Other Potential Causes
You may also experience a side stitch due to gastrointestinal discomfort or breathing inefficiencies. Eating too much or consuming a lot of water too close to the run can sometimes cause side stitches as well as other discomfort. Although side stitches are probably not caused by pressure against the diaphragm while you breath, adopting a rhythmic breathing technique as you run can keep your body relaxed so you avoid side stitches. High-intensity runs, failing to warm up and cold conditions are also more likely to create an environment that brings on side stitches.
Causes for Concern
If the pain doesn't resolve when you stop running and persists afterwards, you need to consult a doctor. Lower right quadrant pain is often indicative of appendicitis, a case in which the internal organ known as the appendix becomes swollen and filled with pus. Inflammatory conditions in the area between the large and small intestines, diverticulitis -- painful pouches in the walls of the colon -- and even tumors can cause pain in this region. An abdominal hernia, although often asymptomatic, may cause bulging and complications that result in pain. Hernias are more common in males. Your doctor can do an exam to check for one if you think this may be a cause. Running doesn't cause these conditions, but may create the stress and fatigue in your body so that you notice them more readily.
- Competitor: Solving the Mystery of Side Stitches in Runners
- The Washington Manual of Surgery; Mary E. Klingensmith
- Rice University SportsMed Web: Abdominal Pain in Runners
- Radiographics: Beyond Appendicitis: Common and Uncommon Gastrointestinal Causes of Right Lower Quadrant Abdominal Pain at Multidetector CT
- Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality: Diagnosis of Right Lower Quadrant Pain (Suspected Acute Appendicitis)
- The Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association: Exercise Related Transient Abdominal Pain: A Case Report and Review of the Literature
- Merck Manuals: Hernias of the Abdominal Wall