Running problem

When I do 5 k runs, about once every two weeks, I get a pain in my abdominal area. It's right where the top of my abs meet the rib cage, always in the same spot. It starts hurting after 10 minutes of running about and won't stop. It's a sharp, intense pain.

I have a hard section in the muscle at this point; I can feel it with my fingers.

I tried massaging it out by pushing the spot against my ribs and applying pressure. The area I rubbed is sore today, but some of the tension in that area is gone.

Any idea what this is? What can I do to help it?

Go see a doctor. It could be cancer. That is an odd place to get a hard knot.

I'm 23 y.o, male, otherwise healthy. I can easily make a GP appointment, but I'd rather not waste my time if I don't have to. I have never been to a GP and gotten any advice that helps me w/ fitness whatsoever.

What's the chance that it's cancer? I just noticed it about a month ago. It feels like a knot in the muscle, about a 1 inch square area.

Pardon the shoddy description, hard to put words to it.

Thanks for the concern though.

Any other opinions? C'mon runners.

Wow, man, I have the EXACT same thing. At least, it sounds like it. I have had it for well over a year now, and I have been too lazy to get it checked out. It's only painful for me every now and then, and I tend to forget about it. But as you said, it's kind of a hard-yet-soft spot right where my abs meet my sternum, a little off to the left. Now, I'm not a long distance runner, but I'll feel it when direct pressure is applied when I wrestle and do BJJ.

My dad had something similar a while back, though much lower, and it turned out to be just a benign growth of some sort that the doctor didn't even want to remove. However, I am planning on getting this checked out, as it is painful from time to time, and getting it out of there would be nice. Not to mention the threat of the C-word, although I doubt that's what it is. Let me know if you get yours checked out soon...




No clue here. Get it checked. Better safe than sorry.

Good luck!

I'm with 4 Ranges on this.

Let the Dr check it out.  He may know it is 'something'.  He may give sh!t S&C/ Fitness advice but he should know anatomy and have 'probably' seen a case like this many times before anyway.


Sounds like you may be having a stitch. Found this on the internet.

A "side stitch" is a sharp, intense pain under the lower edge of the ribcage caused by a muscle spasm of the diaphragm. Such pain can occur during vigorous exercise, such as running, and seems to occur more commonly in novice exercisers who have not yet established proper pacing and who tend to breathe more quickly and shallow. However, about 30% of all runners will experience stitches at some point. What exactly causes them? On inhalation, we take air into the lungs, pressing the diaphragm downward. When we exhale, the diaphragm moves up. If the body has some trapped air/gas below the diaphragm, if we've eaten too close to exercise, or if we start exercising too vigorously, the diaphragm may cramp, causing pain under the rib cage on the right side.

How do you cure the problem?
As with any muscle cramp, the best immediate treatment is to try to stretch the cramping muscle as much as possible. How do you get to the diaphragm on the inside of your body?, Try altering your breathing pattern. Take a deep breath in as quickly as you can, to force the diaphragm down. Hold the breath for a couple of seconds and then forcibly exhale through pursed lips to restrict the outward air flow. You may also find that bending forward can help you expel as much air as possible. I have actually found that stretching up as tall as I could, even to the point of extending arms up over head, then alternating crouch-tall and tightening/flexing the abs, helped as well. You may even have to stop and walk briskly for a few seconds while concentrating on deep breathing. Continue running after the stitch goes away. If you get a cramp in the middle of a race, you might want to try mixing up your rhythmic breathing/ striding pattern. If you always exhale when your right foot strikes the ground, try exhaling with the left foot strike. Believe it or not, according to Dr. Quick, the organs attached to the diaphragm on the left side of the body aren't quite as big as those on the right side, hence there is less strain on the diaphragm. Another technique that may work for some is peaceful visualization--if you are feeling stressed from the day or race, try imagining you are elsewhere, and take deep calming breaths as you run.

How do you prevent the problem?
The most effective way to prevent a side stitch is to take deep, full "belly breaths" while running. This will allow the diaphragm to fully lower and reduces the stress on it. If you take a lot of shallow breaths when running, the diaphragm remains in a consistently high position and never lowers enough to allow the connective ligaments of the liver to relax. The diaphragm becomes stressed and a "stitch" may result. Another way to prevent stitches is to make sure you include a warm-up that helps you gradually increase your running speed. If you head out in an all-out dash from the front door, you're more likely to take quick, short, shallow breaths, inducing a cramp.

If you tend to suffer from side stitches, try to avoid eating within 1 hour of running. Water or gatorade is fine within an hour -- liquid empties from the stomach faster than solids and shouldn't cause any problems.

Strengthening the abdominal and lower back (core) muscles can help prevent stitches since tighter muscles in the mid-section will allow less movement of those internal organs. Happy running!

Great, I thought it was a stitch too. I'm going for a massage in a 1/2 hour, we'll see what she thinks it is.

Oh, also funny, it hurt since I rubbed it, but I think I just bruised my rib trying to rub it out.

My friend (who is almost a pharmacist) was telling me last night that it could be a hernia related thing. She looked pretty worried, almost ruined my appetite for the 3 pounds of wings I was trying to eat. So, I'm gonna go get it checked out.

Get it checked out. A stitch wouldn't cause a lump. My thoughts were hernia or some kind of growth as well. Doesn't have to be the big C, a lot of growths aren't, but worth getting checked.

How fast do I need to get it check out if it's a hernia? I'm supposed to do some REALLY heavy cleans today, and I'm going away for a week as of next June 30th.

If it's not causing me any pain, I should be able to leave it until I get back, or no?

I was poking around in there again, and I think whatever was there is gone. Is it possible to get muscle knots in your abdominals? I think any remaining pain I have is from slightly bruising my rib.

Do you have insurance? If so, then what's the harm in going to the doc? If not then I can understand your hesitation, but it might still be worth it. I think hernias that high up on your abdominal wall are fairly uncommon, but if you've felt some kind of mass/protrusion there then get it looked at.

Best of luck, Noah

I live in Canada, plus I have extended health care insurance. The harm in going to the doc is missing 2-3 hours of work or more if I go to emergency. If it was causing me pain or not getting better, I'll go.

UPDATE: I'm not worried about it, the massage therapist said that it's uncommon, but it is possible to get tight spots (like I have) in your abdominals. She massaged it out for a while, it's sore but the lump isn't as hard anymore. Also, we figured out that it's between my rib and my skin.

Also, I'm have a tennis date w/ the masseuse; it's been a good afternoon.