What is a side point and how to avoid it?

What is a side point and how to avoid it?

The most common assumption in the medical field to explain the side point is that of a slight inflammation of the peritoneum during physical exertion.
Surprisingly, the origin of this universal pain is not yet well understood.

Footwear, stopwatch launched, jogging starts well. But after a few minutes, a brutal pain is felt at the level of the abdomen: it is a side point, which sometimes forces to stop running. Surprisingly, this phenomenon is not yet well understood. But specialists at least agree on one point: having a side point from time to time is absolutely not a sign of an underlying disease. What exactly do we know about this phenomenon? How to avoid having one? Le Figaro interviewed two specialists.

Unknown mechanisms
"There is no precise definition of a side point - but everyone knows how to recognize it," says Dr. Burel, a sports doctor at the Sports Health Center in Rouen. This pain, which is often accompanied by respiratory discomfort, usually disappears within minutes of cessation of exercise. It does not cause complications. The only possible risk is to confuse it with a real problem (appendicitis, peritonitis, myocardial infarction ...). "In reality, these pains are very different, reassures Dr. Burel. During a cardiovascular problem for example, the pain does not pass in a few minutes. And other symptoms besides pain come on top of it, like a general malaise. "

What is this pain? "No study has ever been able to answer this question," says the doctor. There are, however, several hypotheses. "Some say that the point of side would be the result of a cramp or a lack of oxygenation of the diaphragm, says Dr. Mathieu Saubade, head of clinical specialist in sports medicine at Vaud University Hospital in Lausanne. Except that the side points usually appear quickly, without the effort necessarily being supported. But a cramp or a bad oxygenation are possible only in case of relatively intense effort ". Unconvincing, then.

"Some experts have also suggested that it could be mechanical stress in the visceral ligaments, the structures that support the abdominal organs," he continues. This would explain why riding enthusiasts are also subject to side points: this sport involves forward trunk movements that could constrain the ligaments.

But the most common hypothesis in the medical community is that of a slight inflammation of the peritoneum, the membrane that surrounds the organs of the abdomen. It is composed of several layers that, during a physical effort, would be in friction, which could cause a small painful inflammation. For now, this theory is still waiting to be confirmed.

Adapt your breathing
So, how to avoid the side point? First, you have to learn to breathe well. "Breathing badly, we initiate poor movements of the diaphragm, which could increase the friction of the sheets of the peritoneum," says Professor Saubade. Which is why children are more concerned. "Their breathing is often anarchic during physical exertion," says Dr. Burel. Conversely, experienced athletes manage their breathing properly and are thus spared from side points.

"It is important to exhale deeply, to be sure of rejecting all the carbon dioxide," the doctor still recommends, adding that any beginner must learn to synchronize his stride and his breathing, and find the breathing rhythm that corresponds to him. "You have to start slowly and focus on your breathing. And above all, it is necessary to practice an effort adapted to its physical conditions ", he adds. Finally, it is advisable not to overeat before the sports session.

If the pain occurs despite everything, you have to focus on your breathing. Leaning his bust forward can also help. Stretching the muscles on the side of the pain, or pressing the area sometimes also attenuates the symptom. "But often, slow down or stop may be enough," says Dr. Burel. And if we decide to start again, we have to do it gradually.


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