Serratus Anterior and Side Stitches

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Location of the serratus anterior muscles in your ribcage
Location of the serratus anterior muscles in your ribcage

Have you noticed a side stitch that creeps up on you every time you decide to go for a run? Myofascial trigger points (aka muscle knots) in overworked serratus anterior muscles are the most frequent cause of these incapacitating snitch that affects many runners and other athletes.

What Does The Serratus Anterior Do?

The serratus anterior attaches rib 1-8 to the shoulder blade. It helps roll your shoulders forward and raises your arms to the front of your body. When your shoulder blade is in a fixed position, the muscles lifts your ribcage and supports breathing. An example is when you’re breathing heavily after a sprint.

How Does Running Affect The Serratus Anterior?

When you go through multiple heavy sprinting intervals, your arms are swinging a substantial amount. During the forward swing, your serratus is activated to bring your arm forward and upward. If you aren’t used to this swing or do not give yourself sufficient rest, this muscle may get hurt pretty quickly.

Can A Coughing Episode Bring On Pain In The Serratus Anterior?

The serratus anterior is also easily taxed by heavy breathing. People with asthma and emphysema often suffer from myofascial symptoms of this muscle. Tightness and trigger points in the muscles can cause headaches, jaw pain and dizziness. It can even cause numbness in the hands of those who have difficult breathing.

How Does The Pain Feel Like?

Pain from trigger points in the muscles is typically felt in the side and mid back, at the lower end of your shoulder blade. You would usually feel like you aren’t able to take a deep breath without pain, nor can you exhale completely. Normal breathing may hurt too, so you may be limited to shallow chest breathing in an effort to avoid pain.