Everyone has experienced a side stitch or cramp from one time to another. Dr Sam Hay from Embarrassing Bodies Down Under lets you know what causes these annoying pains.
Australians are becoming more conscious about their health, especially when it comes to exercise. And as we hit the gym more, we're going to be more susceptible to some of the simple exercise problems like getting a cramp, getting a stitch or a couple of days later getting our muscles sore.
So the first condition is the cramp, which is an intense muscle spasm that occurs usually in the feet or in the calf. It often comes on during exercise and it's made worse in people who are less fit, less strong, who are dehydrated and towards the end of your exercise rather than the beginning. Now the greatest majority of the time, the cramp is not going to cause any problems, it's literally just an intense spasm. The muscle tightens and that tight muscle causes pain. If you're getting a lot of cramping it might be an indicator for underlying medical problems, and if that's occurring every time or every second time you're exercising, you really should go along and see your GP.
Similar to a cramp, people often complain of a stitch. You know, they're running along and they grab the side of their stomach on both sides but usually on the right hand side. Once again it's not a serious condition. We don't really know what causes it. We used to think it was poor blood flow to the diaphragm. Spasm in the muscles, but we now think it's probably some friction and irritation in the lining inside your guts and the muscle wall.
There are some simple things that we can do that can really prevent these things from occurring. You need to make sure you keep hydrated. You've got to be drinking plenty and if you're exercising for a long time, you probably need a drink during your exercise. It's important to stretch both before, but especially after you exercise. If you haven't been for a run for ages, there's no point going out there and trying to run half a marathon. You need to build your program up slowly. The bottom line is, with cramps and stitches, they're not dangerous. They'll definitely cause you pain but if you stop and rest, they'll disappear and you can get back into your exercise.
Have you ever wondered why a couple of days after you've been to the gym all of your muscles seem to hurt and you can barely move. This is a condition called DOMS or Day Old Muscle Soreness and it occurs because the muscles are trying to regenerate themselves and grow new muscles and they actually get a little bit swollen which leads to this pain and stiffness. You don't have to worry, this is a normal thing. It can be prevented by doing some stretching after each workout, but you've also got to look at training, improving your fitness and improving your conditioning, and that will reduce its occurrence over time. So if you're sore after a couple of days at the gym, it means your muscles are working well, they're working hard. So remember, no pain no gain.