Stabbing pain in the side while running

Are you bothered by a constant stabbing pain in your side, do you get out of breath quickly and your neck and trapezius muscles hurt as well? All that has a connection and a simple solution. We will try to explain you in this article what happens with our body during increased physical burden, and what to do in order to avoid the uncomfortable feelings.


CLBehaniThe stabbing sensation in the side during power walking and running is caused by a cramp of the diaphragm and its insufficient function. Under ideal circumstances the diaphragm as a main breathing muscles should move up and down (Diaphragmatic breathing), so that the lungs would develop properly. Insufficient function resulting from wrong breathing habits reduces the range of movement of the diaphragm. And in order for the ventilation of the lungs to be preserved, the thorax is pulled upwards by the trapezius muscles, which is not energetically difficult for them. Pain on the chest, neck and headaches are result of increased activity and overload.

Other internal organs are attached to the diaphragm (spleen, intestines, livers, stomach), which are burdening the diaphragm with their weight. Increased pressure of every step while running puts higher demand on the diaphragm and drag it downwards. The whole situation is encumbered by food in your stomach that has not been digested yet. All these factors are causing diaphragmatic cramp, usually in the right side below the ribs. When we have a bigger energetic release - while running, the diaphragm has to to get bigger amount of oxygen than normally. If it’s not trained and not sufficiently supplied with blood, it won’t have enough oxygen and calcium, which causes lasting spasm or cramp.


  • Learn how to breathe with your diaphragm and try to apply it when you go running
  • Warm up by walking before the training tempo
  • Don't eat at least 2 hours prior to the exerice
  • Learn how to keep intra-abdominal pressure
  • Learn to relax your abdominal wall and diaphragm

Adopt a correct way of doing physical activity and  holding your body in a correct posture, so that you would avoid as much complications as possible, which result from running. Anyway, don’t be discouraged with the unpleasant stabbing pain in the side. The pain will go completely away with your gradual improvement.


  • Slow down the tempo, alternately stop running and continue by walking. Concentrate on breathing with your diaphragm.
  • Take a short break and stop. Catch your breath and stretch the side where you feel the pain, by lifting your arms up and and stretch them as far out as you can.

Pressing on the area where you feel the pain can also bring your relief, but it won’t help to blood supply the diaphragm. Persisting spasm has to subside and relax, therefore the technique is in relaxing, blood supplying and stretching. After you don’t feel the pain anymore, you can continue to run in a slower tempo with a bigger emphasis on the preventive measures.

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FYZIOklinika physiotherapy Ltd., Prague, Czech Republic

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