SALLY, 32, asks: I’ve taken some time off from exercise over Christmas and now I’m finding my fitness level has dramatically dropped. I now cramp up and suffer from stitches much more than I did before. Is there any way to prevent this?
The Colonel says: Sally, firstly well done for being motivated to get fit for the New Year, keep this up! Taking time off over Christmas is common as we indulge in the festivities and when we re-hit the gym there is often more to deal with than just those extra pounds. An exercise drought can lead to cramp and stitches as we work to get our routines back in full swing.
These New Year stitches are common but there are ways to prevent the horrible achy pain. Probably the most obvious solution is not to eat before you work out. Ideally you need to leave 2-3 hours after you eat before you hit the gym to ensure you give your body time to properly digest your food.
You also need to ensure you keep your body hydrated and so make sure you drink plenty of water before you work out, rather than leaving it until you’re in full swing. During your routine make sure you drink between 200-300ml of water or sports drink every 10-20 minutes. Also, if you work to strengthen your core muscles (abs, back and pelvic muscles) you won’t suffer the cramps as much either. A great way to strengthen this is to lie on your back with your knees bent. Then, push your hips off the ground whilst tightening your abs and hold this for 3 deep breaths.
If you do get struck with a stitch while you are working out then ease the pain by stretching. Stretch your right arm straight up towards the ceiling and lean your body to the left. Hold this for 20-30 seconds and then repeat with the left arm.
Ensure you follow these steps to stay stitch free this 2015!