PT on the Net Research

Side Aches from Running


Can you provide me with any information about a stitch (side aches)? What causes it? What prevents it? One of my clients seems especially susceptible when jogging.


The side ache your client gets from running may be caused from several things. We must first determine the types of pain he or she has; is it sharp, dull, slight or disabling? Are there any rashes or skin irritations near or around the area of pain? Has your client been traveling anywhere that may produce the chance of some weird infection or parasitic illness? You can see how one simple thing could be misconstrued into many different things.

If your client has not been traveling and has no rashes, we move ahead to other possibilities. There is not much information for effort related side aches. However, I have been told by a few seasoned coaches that they “feel” side aches are when the diaphragm is somewhat ischemic or low on oxygen and therefore results in an internal cramp. If this is the case, your client may need an extended warm up before going out for the run. Perhaps, in place of jogging continuously, you may prescribe some low duration intervals, a Fartlek training program.

To go back to our original direction, the side ache may indicate kidney problems, like kidney stones or an infection. This will produce side aches, also known as flank pain. If it is renal related, the side aches might occur on either side or both sides at once. Gallbladder infections and stones produce flank pain. Ulcers, bladder and bowel problems will also produce flank pain. It is probably something simple. However, if the side aches persist, send your client to his or her health care professional for a work up. It is always better to be safe than sorry.

Good luck.