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Race Fueling

Why Do I Get a Stomach Ache After Swimming?

Ah yes, the problem of post-swim flatulence. It's more common than you'd think. Here's how to cope with ailments like gas or a stomach ache after swimming.

Ah yes, the problem of post-swim flatulence. You’re not alone, my friend, and the first step toward avoiding gas and stomach aches after swimming is to ask for help, so you’re on the right track.

Excessive or repetitive air swallowing (also known as aerophagia) produces unfavorable GI symptoms, like bloating, stomach ache, belching, abdominal distension, and flatulence. When swimming, your body is placed into a horizontal position and swallowing too much air (big gulps), not fully exhaling underwater prior to taking the next breath, mouth-only breathing (not using the nose), and rapid/short breathing patterns may trap gas in the stomach, increasing the risk of post-swim flatulence.

Luckily, there are a few tips to reduce gas and stomach ache after swimming:

1. Control your breathing when swimming to avoid taking big gasps of air. Aim for more frequent breathing (e.g., every other stroke), and make sure to forcefully exhale underwater before taking your next breath. Create controlled, rhythmic, and calm breathing patterns before trying to increase your speed or effort in the water.

2. Avoid gas-promoting fare before you swim, like greasy foods, caffeine, high- ber foods (e.g., beans, broccoli, apples, asparagus, cauliflower, cabbage, fructose), and for some, lactose-containing foods like cheese, yogurt, and milk.

3. Cut out gum chewing and carbonated beverages (e.g., soda, carbonated water, etc.) on the days that you swim, as both can cause gas.

4. Avoid artificial sweeteners, such as sorbitol, which can increase the risk of gas.

5. Eat slowly before you swim, as fast eating may cause air to enter the stomach.

6. Keep a food diary of commonly consumed foods 4-12 hours prior that trigger excessive gas before swim workouts so that you can avoid them in future workouts/races.

7. Avoid drinking from a straw, which includes using a straw-based hydration system when cycling. Each sip from the straw draws air into your mouth (from the upper part of the straw), which is then swallowed and increases the risk for gas/b8loating.

8. Avoid large meals before swimming. If you need a boost, try eating a small snack of around 100-200 calories in the 30- 60 minutes before swimming. Start paying attention to how much time your body needs to digest food before shifting into a horizontal position.

*If you still experience pain, bloating, gas, or stomach aches after swimming, consult a medical professional for further evaluation. 

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