Side Stitch Pain Caused by Coughing

Side stitch pain feels like a pin is being pushed into the muscle between your ribs – and it hurts!  In fact, it’s enough to make you stop running if you’re out exercising. Or you’ll take very shallow breaths if your suddenly attacked by a side stitch pain.

The most common cause of side stitch pain is a spasm in your intercostal muscles, the tiny muscles that attach your ribs together.

When you take a breath in, your external intercostal muscles contract to make your rib cage expand, and your internal intercostal muscles contract so you can draw your ribs together and force the air out of your lungs.  This is a smooth movement, until you add something like heavy coughing, or rapid, deep breathing.

If, for example, you are having an allergic reaction to leaves molding in the fall, or you have bronchitis or a post-nasal drip, you may have bouts of uncontrolled coughing.

Or, if you are an athlete you may be panting after a challenging workout or run.

In both cases you are rapidly opening and closing your rib cage as your body quickly draws in more air into your lungs.  This rapid and repetitive movement can cause a spasm to form in your intercostal muscles. The spasm, a tiny knot in the muscle fibers, prevents those fibers from expanding as you try to draw in your breath.  And you feel the muscle tension as a side stitch pain.

1.Using your fingertips, press directly into the side stitch pain point. Use your opposite hand to add strength to your movement.

2. Hold the point for 30 seconds and then take a slow, deep, breath so your rib cage expands fully.

Repeat this 2-3 times.

This simple treatment stops side stitch pain as soon as it happens so you can get back to breathing easily again. It’s easy to self-treat when you have just a little direction of where to go to find the pain, and how to do a self-treatment.

You can discover how to eliminate pain quickly using my book, Treat Yourself to Pain-Free Living  This book is a “how to guide” to the body, and will save you time and money, and most importantly, give you relief!

Wishing you well,


Julie Donnelly – The Pain-Relief Expert


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