ANSWER: First things first, yay you for getting some exercise! That is great! If you’ve spent any time following along with me, you know how important I think exercise is for your body and for your mind, and for right now in your life as well as for years down the road.
But yes, sometimes you can get all sorts of unpleasant feelings when you get out there and run or work out. I’m going to talk about both side stitches and general muscle cramps, since I am not sure which one is bothering you, but they are both common in exercising teens.
Side Stitches – you know that sharp OW in your side up under your rib? Why oh why do they happen? Well, no one knows for 100% sure, but most experts think it is a cramp in your diaphragm. Your diaphragm is a big muscle that moves to make you breathe in and out.
Things to try to prevent them:
- Don’t eat a lot or anything with a lot of fat or fiber for 1 – 2 hours before you exercises
- Don’t have a lot of sugar before you exercise (energy drinks anyone? – yes those count!)
- Scale back – some people get more stitches when they are new to exercising. So ease into it. No need to go all out at the beginning.
- Take deep breaths (to really stretch out that diaphragm).
- And, lastly, it really helps to make your core (muscles around your abs and your back) stronger.
- Best way? Planks! Here is how you do them (you basically hold yourself straight like you are at the top of a pushup – don’t let your abs sink! You can also do this on your elbows if it hurts your wrists to do it the other way:
How to prevent them?
- Warm up!
- Make sure you have plenty of fluids before you exercise (but watch the sugary beverages since you just learned they can give you stitches in your side!).
- Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables is the best way to get the minerals you need. If you are an extreme athlete, you can talk with your Dr if sports drinks like Gatorade, etc would be recommended (most people don’t need this stuff, honestly!)
- Warm up! Get some blood flowing to the muscles with some brisk walking or light slow jogging. Then after about 5 minutes, start really doing your workout.
- Build up your strength and endurance GRADUALLY!
So, good luck! Keep up the good work with that exercise plan! If you have other tips that have worked for you, go ahead and share them below.