Whether you are on the court or in the gym, sportspeople dedicate time and energy in preparation for competition. But it’s also important to allow yourself proper rest and eat properly, which includes giving your body enough time to digest your food! Failing to eat right and allowing for proper digestion can lead to a condition we have all suffered from during training: a pain in the side.
Though this pain is not overwhelming, it is certainly powerful enough to be bothersome. In fact, in competitive circumstances it may very well be the difference between victory and defeat!
What is it?
There are several theories on why and how people experience pain in their side while working out. One explanation is that poor blood circulation in the diaphragm leads to cramps in the abdominal muscles and irritation of the peritoneum.
The diaphragm plays a crucial role when we breathe, and because our bodies experience jolts and shocks during training, our internal organs move continuously. This includes the diaphragm, which can create tension and cramps.
Nervousness, irregular breathing, postural problems, weak abdominal muscles, a full stomach or poor movement have all also been suggested as possible causes for this kind of pain in the side. The pain is not dangerous, but as we have already mentioned, it is still painful and may force you to stop training halfway through.
How to prevent it:
Light, low in fiber and fat.
2. Pre-training meal
To be done 2 or 3 hours before training. A small snack just before training, like a banana, is also helpful.
Proper warmup and stretching is critical.
4. Increase intensity gradually
It is better to start slowly and then ramp up the intensity of a workout. Pain is an indicator that the body is under pressure it can’t handle.
5. Upper body focus
Side pain occurs particularly in sports involving the upper body, such as running, swimming and tennis. A strong upper body reduces rotational movements and supports internal organs by decreasing the occurrence of cramps. A strong upper body decreases the risk of injury as well as side pains.
6. Strong abs
Well-trained abdominals can prevent you from experiencing pain in your side. Training these muscles between five and ten minutes a day can already make a big difference.
7. Controlled breathing
During training, the body needs more oxygen and being able to breathe effectively is crucial.
If you have done all of the above and still experience pain in your side, here are some tips for handling it:
Breathing properly helps to relax the diaphragm and respiratory muscles. Two steps for inhaling and one for exhaling: by doing this you can improve the depth of the breath and the relaxation of the muscles.
9. Use your hands
Press on the side with the pain and release when exhaling. Always breathe deeply.
10. Slow down
Slowing down or taking a break can ease the pain.
Stretching can also help when feeling this kind of pain. Bend your torso to the side and slowly stretch your muscles.
12. Stop and bend over
To relax the diaphragm and the abdomen, you can place your arms over your head as you inhale and bend your torso forward as you exhale, releasing your arms.
The good news: running is the best way to prevent pain in the side. The fitter you are, the less likely it is that you will experience pain in your sides.