Side points: where do they come from and how to avoid them?

By | December 3, 2019

Sunday 9am, you decide – finally – to go for a jog. Except that after a quarter of an hour of running, the verdict is final: you have a side point. But what is it and how can it be avoided?

What is a side point?

Acute and brief pain, localized in the abdomen, the side point, officially called “exercise-related transient abdominal pain” , is actually a cramp of the diaphragm (the muscle that allows us to breathe). The process is very simple: when the diaphragm contracts, air enters the lungs. When it relaxes, the air comes out of the lungs. Except that during a physical effort, it is extremely stressed – it can go from 30 contractions on average per minute to over a hundred. This can cause a cramp. In any case, this seems the most likely hypothesis according to scientists.

Another track evokes a problem of vascularization. During an effort, the muscles require a lot of blood to function. “Except that if the body is not trained to cope with this demand, the answer will not be fast enough and too much blood will remain blocked in the liver or pancreas” explains Jean-Michel Serra, interviewed by Ouest-France . Which could also create pain. And explain that the side points are mainly manifested in Sunday sports, rather than in high-level athletes, regulars.

Can we prevent side points?

To avoid side points, work your breath . If you are running, for example, be sure to adopt a “good ventilation strategy” (for example an inspiration on 2 strides and then an expiry on 1 stride …). The deeper your breathing will be, the more your muscles will be oxygenated. Other tips to avoid side points: warm up or start the physical effort slowly so that your body gets used to the exercise.

Also be careful not to talk during physical exertion: when we speak, we no longer respect our breathing pattern. Result; it is the insured side point!

How to cure a side point?

In full exercise – this famous Sunday at 9am – you feel that a side point arrives. In this case, try to slow down, or even stop the jogging time. Then resume the activity by forcing the inspiration and exhalation in a long and deep way. This is the only way to overcome it. To soothe the pain – though it is not helpful in getting it through – you can also lean forward and gently squeeze the side stitch while breathing deeply.

However, if the pain does not fade or occurs at rest, it is better to consult a doctor.