Our expert says:
Don't panic, you're doing great so far! I promise that some day you will look back and wonder what all the fuss was about, and it is the same with the stitch you're getting.
Stitches are usually caused by erratic or shallow breathing, which causes a muscle called the diaphragm to go into 'cramp'. the diaphragm runs just below the lungs and so if you breathe very rapidly in short, shallow breaths, then this muscle is affected most. The key to relieving a stitch then is to slow the breathing down, which often requires slowing the pace of walking, and to take very deep breaths with a focus on breathing from the lungs, chest and stomach, as opposed to just panting.
What can lead to stitches is eating or drinking before, so have a look at whether that has happened and also see what you may have changed in your diet - perhaps you now eat white bread instead of brown, little things like that can cause it. Otherwise, just focus on your breathing and the problem should resolve itself. Maybe you have just lost the focus on your breathing pattern in your walking, it's hard to say, but this should sort it out. The final possibility is that you have a slight muscle strain in one of the muscles that controls the breathing, possibly the intercostals. This can often be felt as cramp or as a side stitch, and just requires some rest and it too will sort itself out.
My advice is to keep going the way you are, but just focus on your breathing. You really want to breathe in and out very deeply, trying to imagine that the air you breathe in and out is going all the way down into your lungs, right to the bottom. Don't breathe shallowly or take short, panting breaths. If you find that you can't breathe deeply enough, then just slow the walk down and recover, before going up again. I know this might be frustrating, but you can do it, it just takes time. And like I said, you'll get there and wonder what all the fuss was about! Keep it up, and it will come!
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