Last week I was running my intensive hypnotherapy practitioner diploma course for 9 days straight and so this promised article has taken a little longer than originally expected to publish. We spend an afternoon looking at using hypnosis for overcoming pain and then dedicate some time to the medical application of hypnosis using it for anaesthesia and analgesia. We test the anaesthesia using a pin and we also really ramp things up with the use of fear-inducing medical clamps. My Facebook page includes photos from these demonstrations last week.

I have lectured a couple of times in the past year about hypnotic anaesthesia, I’ve taught self-hypnosis applications of anaesthesia and written a great deal on the subject.  One of the things I am asked about a great deal is the best way to create anaesthesia, analgesia and the right level of numbness for it to be used as an impressive demonstration of self-hypnosis skill and as a convincer of the effects of self-hypnosis. Additionally and importantly for today, there is a way to use this strategy to help overcome stitch when you are running, which is what I am sharing with you here today.

A stitch is a sharp pain in the upper part of the abdomen, which often feels worse when breathing deeply. It is very common among long distance runners, mainly those who have not warmed up properly, or who have eaten too close to the beginning of the run. There are a couple of main theories about what causes a stitch to happen.

Firstly, many theorists believe that as our blood moves away from the diaphragm (one of the main breathing muscles and the muscle separating heart and lungs from the abdomen and stomach) to the limbs when running, this reduction in blood supply causes a cramp in the diaphragm.

The second main theory is that a stitch is a tugging of the ligaments which connect the gut to the diaphragm and that the tugging is caused by fluids that the body finds difficult to digest.

There are many, many practical tips given on running forums and in magazines to overcome stitch. Two of the most popular seem to be stopping running altogether and touching your toes. This does not appeal to me as I don’t want to stop my run – my Garmin is ticking and I don’t want to press the stop button unless I have to!

The other popular method to overcome stitch is to apply pressure with your fingers directly to the area in order to relieve the pain. This is easier to do when running, does not involve stopping and can be used in conduction with the self-hypnosis process that I offer to you here today.

This is absolutely one of those processes that can create very impressive results very quickly. However, I recommend that it is something that is developed and built up over a prolonged period of time (at least daily for a week) – that you practice, utilise repetition and persistence in order to build up your skill level before you can then apply it when needed on your runs.

Here is a step-by-step process, however, it has a number of options within the guide, so give a thorough read prior to practicing.

Steps To Create Numbness and Anaesthesia with Self-Hypnosis to Relieve Stitch:

Step One:

Induce hypnosis.

You can do so by any means you desire or know of. You can use the process in my Science of self-hypnosis book, use the free audio we give away on this website to practice or have a look at the following articles as and when you need them; they are basic processes to help you simply open the door of your mind:

Heavy Arm Self-Hypnosis Induction Method
Using Eye Fixation for Self-Hypnosis
The Chiasson Self-Hypnosis Method
Hand to Face Self-Hypnosis Induction
Using Magnetic Hands for Self-Hypnosis
The Coin Drop Self-Hypnosis Induction

However, with this process, an induction is potentially too much activity, so I teach my clients how to adopt a hypnotic mindset and simply have a mindset that is positive and expectant. Again, to really understand the cognitive set of the hypnotic mindset, go grab a copy of my Science of self-hypnosis book where it is explained in simple but comprehensive terms.

Once you have induced hypnosis, move on to step two.

Step Two:

Tell yourself that every thought you think takes you deeper into hypnosis and then do one or all of the following strategies to start developing a numbness and anaesthesia in your hand:

a) Use cognitions and internal dialogue: Affirm to yourself that the area of your arm you are focusing on is going numb. This needs to be done in a way that convinces you that it is the truth; that is, say it all to yourself in a way that you believe 100% at an emotional level.

Do not say it with stress and do not ‘try’ to will it to happen, just convince yourself with a good level of assuredness.

Focus your attention on a particular spot on your hand or your arm and begin to imagine and notice that it is growing numb. Then tell yourself it is going numb. Convince yourself using your internal dialogue that it is so.

Utilise any accompanying twitches, or slight sensations by telling yourself that they are proof of it taking affect and working for you.

My arm is more and more numb. Feeling is fading, disappearing… More and more numb” or whatever kind of other cognitions really convince you.

b) Use of hot or cold: This is your choice – some people find a numbing icy sensation the best way to numb a stitch, whereas others prefer a warm soothing, relaxing sensation to ease it gently.

For cold: Imagine that you are putting your hand, finger tips first, and then slowly the rest of the hand and arm, into a bucket of icy water. Imagine the coldness and numbness spreads and then imagine it getting colder  until the water turns to ice and the arm is encased in case.

Again, add belief and convince yourself of it.

You can tell yourself that the arm is getting colder and colder, but ensure it is not an uncomfortable coldness that would harm us in real-life terms. No self-induced frostbite here please! 😉

Some of my students have imagined pure white snow falling on the arm, building up and getting colder. You may use icy, barren arctic conditions as a stimulus to dominate the mind and accompany what you do with the arm directly, thus creating an internal environment for your thoughts that supports and encourages the coldness in the arm.

For heat: Now imagine being in a scene where a heat source was. Notice the colours, the sounds, and all the details of the place as vividly as possible.

Imagine moving your hand closer to the heat source (you can move it in actuality if you want to, but it is not essential) and then imagine the hand getting warmer and warmer. Notice and imagine all the sensations happening that you experienced earlier.

Imagine your hand getting warmer, imagine all the qualities of the hand changing to really be a warmer hand (colour, sensation, etc.) and start to notice it getting warmer. Tell yourself that it is feeling as if it is getting warmer – convince yourself, say it as if you truly believe it 100%, undeniably convince yourself by imagining it so realistically that it becomes your reality.

For a more in depth version of the heat inducing process, read this article.

c) Numb colouring: With either of the previous options and with those that following, you may choose to use your imagination to colour the area in a way that leads to numbness or increased sense of easiness.

Ideally, white and blue tend to get associated with cold and that may prove useful.

However, when I do this with clients or students with hetero hypnosis, I have often noticed the actual change in colour in the arm as blood is mobilized. Often the arm loses some of it’s usual colour and turns a more yellow or pale colour. You might consider suggesting the same thing to yourself using colour and imagining that the arm is becoming more pale.

If using heat, then imagine red or orange, for example.

This use of colour can advance and enhance any of the other options given here.

d) A numbing injection: This is particularly good and effective if you have had an experience of a numbing, analgesic injection in the past, at a hospital, doctors surgery or dentist.

You might notice or imagine being in a doctors surgery or a surgical environment if that helps create the right feel for you. Then imagine the injection and focus on the cooling, numbing sensation that occurs, focus on it and even add in the use of your internal dialogue, colouring and coolness imagery to advance it.

e) Turn the arm into something else: This is the kind of process used by Derren Brown in his recent stage show. This is whereby you use your imagination and imagine that your arm and hand are actually made of a different substance. You imagine that the arm takes on the qualities of that substance.

You imagine that the arm and hand are beginning to change gradually into a piece of wood, plastic, or the same as an arm of a clothing shop mannequin.

You imagine the arm becoming inert, like painted wood or soft plastic, you tell yourself that it is becoming more and more numb as it takes on those qualities. This is my method of choice. I do not like using cold to deal with a stitch (on the contrary, I prefer warm sensations, to be honest) so I use the notion of my hand becoming wooden,

f) Distraction: This is working upon dissociation principles. While inducing the numbness, you shift your awareness and focus to another completely different part of your body, you become so aware and tuned in to your toes or foot, for example, that you lose any awareness of the arm and it becomes numb by default.

I recommend that a combination of many of these techniques and processes be used to develop the desired outcome. Remember to convince yourself and add as much belief as possible without unnecessary stress being placed upon yourself.

When you have built up and developed the numbness, congratulate yourself positively and move on to the next step.

Step Three:

Move your hand over to the top of your abdomen, to the area where the stitch occurs (if and when it occurs). Now imagine the numbness spreading into that area. I imagine the inert feeling spreading into the stomach area. I imagine it is relaxing and that I am dissociated from it.

However, whatever chosen methods you combined from the previous step to create a numbness in your hand, is what you imagine spreading into your abdmoen and relieving the stitch. Apply pressure with the hand directly to that affected area and imagine all the qualities of your created anaesthesia moving powerfully and surely into the area.

Tell yourself with the same assuredness that the abdomen is numbing, relaxing, cooling, warming up or whatever you are using and convince yourself of it. Then really spend time noticing the change in sensation in that area. Turn up the effect, be gently assured of it (i.e. do not grasp for the effect or make too much conscious effort, trust it to happen).

Tell yourself that each time you practice this, your responses become more and more noticeable and developed better and better. Each time you practice, it is easier and more profound. Tell yourself that the numbness occurs more readily and the stitch is relieved and dissipates.

Tell yourself that you are making fabulous progress. Then move on to the next step.

Step Four:

Start to put the feeling and sensation back into your arm. Imagine it warming, imagine the correct colour of it, give yourself suggestions and instructions that it returns to it’s usual way of being and that it is healthy and at ease, functioning well.

You might flex it or wave it and put it all back into place and associate with all the right feelings in it. Tell yourself that this continues to develop and occur after the session is completed. Tell yourself that the sensation in the abdomen remains the same but the effect gradually wears off once the stitch is gone.

Step Five:

Bring yourself out of hypnosis, counting and opening your eyes if they were closed.

Practice this process in hypnosis twice a day for a week to get it fully installed. Then go and use it when out running if and when it occurs. I think you’ll be surprised by how much you can really do this and develop it. I hope you enjoy it and get to marvel at what you can do, and that your runs are far more comfortable from here onwards.


Have some of themes here resonated with you? Then have a read of these pages:

1. Do you need help or support taking your sporting performance to the next level?
Coaching with Adam Eason Or Hypnotherapy with Adam Eason
2. Would you like a satisfying and meaningful career as a hypnotherapist helping others? Are you a hypnotherapist looking for stimulating and career enhancing continued professional development and advanced studies?
Adam Eason’s Anglo European training college.
3. Are you a hypnotherapist looking to fulfil your ambitions or advance your career?
Hypnotherapist Mentoring with Adam Eason.

Have you read my book Hypnosis for Running: Training Your Mind to Maximise Your Running Performance? It helps any athlete or sportsperson maximise performance.

Likewise, if you’d like to learn more about self-hypnosis and how it can help you advance your athletic performance, where you’ll learn to understand the evidence based principles of it from a scientific perspective and how to apply it to many areas of your life while having fun and in a safe environment, then come and join me for my one day seminar which does all that and more, have a read here: The Science of Self-Hypnosis Seminar.