Dominique Lloyd-Walter (former England squash international) works as a personal trainer in and around Surrey
Dominique Lloyd-Walter (former England squash international) works as a personal trainer in and around Surrey

Newsletter number thirty four

Hi everyone,Newsletter

Hope you have a brilliant weekend and enjoy this week's read.


What is called a ‘stitch’ is actually a pain felt during a run. Sometimes when we experience a stitch, the pain is felt not only by side but is also felt at the right shoulder tip. This is because the same nerve that connects the liver and diaphragm has the same origin as the nerve that connects the shoulder. Our brain can’t differentiate where the pain is coming from so you might experience a pain at the shoulder tip during a stitch when in fact there is nothing wrong with your shoulder.

There are 3 common theories on what causes a stitch.

Theory 1. During the run there is an increased blood flow through the liver as the blood has to bypass the liver before getting to the heart. With the increase in the heart rate during the run, there is more blood to get through the liver. The liver enlarges secondary to blood engorgement and stretches its capsule. Sometimes the blood flow is so great that it forms a ‘traffic jam’ in the liver and this causes the liver to engorge and expand with blood. This stretches the tight capsule surrounding the liver and since the capsule is full of nerves that are sensitive to stretching, we feel the side pain which we call a ‘stitch’.

Theory 2. Our liver and other organs hang on the diaphragm. It is a large sheet-like muscle that helps us breathe. During running, the diaphragm contracts harder and stronger to let us breath deeper. At the same time, the liver and other organs hanging on the diaphragm are bouncing up and down and this causes the diaphragm to cramp up, causing pain which we call a ‘stitch’.

Theory 3. Another less common theory is that during running, the blood supply to the
diaphragm drops because more blood has been directed to the legs to supply more oxygen to the working muscles. This lack of blood to the diaphragm causes it to cramp up, causing the stitch pain.

How to get rid of running stitches?
It can be quite annoying to be experiencing a side stitch in the middle of your run. The sharp pain that accompanies with each step eventually causes you to slow down and walk. The thought of giving up lingers in your mind. Fret not. Here are some ways you can adopt to prevent stitches from ruining your run.

Proper warm up and stretching Each time before you run, make sure you are properly warmed up to get your muscles prepared for the distance ahead. Do some dynamic stretches and avoid going out at a very fast pace from the start. Going all out without preparing your body for it results in higher chance of you getting a stitch.

Reducing your speed If it’s hurting a lot, slow down or come to a stop. Focus on your breathing, keeping it long and deep. This will get your muscles to relax and allow the stitch to go away.

Applying pressure on the affected spot An effective way to soothe the pain is to apply pressure on the spot that is hurting and exhale strongly. This method should relieve the discomfort in a short time.

Eat right and eat light Avoid heavy meals and foods that are not easily digestible just before starting your run. If you really have to consume something, make sure you keep the portion small. Having a fruit is an ideal choice.


Weight loss

Sometimes people confuse tiredness for hunger. This is because sleep deprivation leads to specific changes in specific hormones that control appetite. According to the American College of Physicians, adequate sleep helps regulate appetite through the two hormones, leptin and ghrelin. Leptin decreases hunger which means you are less hungry when leptin levels are high. Ghrelin increases hunger, which means you will feel hungry when ghrelin levels are high. With sleep deprivation, leptin and ghrelin levels are altered and they increase appetite. By getting enough sleep (7-9 hours per night), you can help better control your appetite. The important thing is to know whether you are hungry or simply tired.


Nutrition tip

In recent times, it has been a popular belief that eliminating carbohydrate from your diet will help you lose weight. However, complex carbohydrates such as those rich in wholegrains and fibre are very good for you. They will keep you fuller for longer and ultimately help you to eat less and lose more weight.

People often make the common mistake of thinking that because they are eliminating carbs from their diet, they can then eat no carb or low carb foods in any amount which is simply not true. Eat too much of anything and you will gain weight!

Experts say that you should never cut any food group completely out of your diet. Instead, try to educate yourself which carbohydrates will give you the most benefit in your diet and aim to include these regularly.


Calorie awareness

The average wine drinker in England takes in around 2000 calories from alcohol every month. Drinking five pints of lager per week adds up to 44,200 calories over a year, equivalent to eating 221 doughnuts! Most people would baulk at consuming a full glass of single cream, but wouldn't think twice about the calorie content of a couple of pints. However, the calorie content is similar and over time, excess alcohol intake can easily contribute to gaining weight. Try to be honest with yourself about what you are consuming and to avoid weight gain from alcohol, stick to the recommended daily amount of units....3 to 4 units per day for men and 2 to 3 units per day for women.


Quote of the week

"Only passions, great passions, can elevate the soul to great things."

Denis Diderot


Interesting fact

Walking either in water, against the wind or wearing a backpack burns approximately 50 more calories an hour!


Challenge of the week

Winners of this week's scissor kick challenge are,

Male winner : Tim Bowen with 2 minutes 30 seconds

Male runner up : James Sayers with 1 minute 24 seconds

Female winner : Sophie Kirkwood-Jones with 1 minute 30 seconds

Female runner up : Julia Bowen with 1minute 25 seconds

Well done all participants. Tim, fantastic effort! I know a lot of people find this exercise particularly hard, so we shall re-visit it at a later date. Get practising!!

Next week's challenge is leg many can you do with perfect technique before stopping?


Star client of the weekTony

After a few weeks lay off from training, Tony Bamford-Mumby came back in style putting in a great session last Saturday. His usual 4.5km run was done in a good time which is encouraging ahead of his goal of completing the 5km park run in April with a personal best. Well done Tony! Keep up the good work.