Don’t you feel good after finishing a long session of swimming? You have toned your muscles, strengthened your bones, and torched some calories. You have worked your way to improved well-being. Also, you are now more confident about your appearance. Everything feels great – except for your upset and gassy stomach after swimming.
If you experience bloating, belching, farting, and stomach pains following a long swim, you are not alone. The gassy and uncomfortable sensation is commonly caused by aerophagia, the act of ingesting air while swimming. Although passing gas is a normal function of the digestive system, there are various factors that cause you to ingest extra air when swimming, including your diet and swimming techniques.
How to avoid Gassy Stomach After Swimming
If you love swimming yet you’d love to feel nothing but refreshed after a vigorous swim workout, ahead are six ways to reduce aerophagia.
1. Abstain from flatulence-causing foods
Aside from chewing gum and carbonated drinks which are notorious for ingesting too much gas in your gut, other healthy foods also trap excess gas, thus should also be avoided prior to hitting the pool. Foods such as milk and dairy products (lactose causes gas), starchy foods like pasta and potatoes, and fiber-rich foods like broccoli, cauliflower, wheat, and beans, are among those big offenders.
Processed foods with artificial sweeteners, greasy foods, chocolates, mints, and caffeinated drinks may also cause gas ingestion and result in increased reflux or belching, and discomfort.
2. Eat smaller food portions frequently
A myth says that you should keep an empty stomach prior to swimming. That’s not entirely true because you need fuel in order to swim effectively. However, it’s important to watch what you are eating and keep it light. Shifting your body from a vertical to a horizontal position while digesting food causes air to get trapped in the fluids of your stomach and propelled into the small intestine, which can result in pain and subsequent flatulence.
So instead of having huge servings, it’s suggested to have small, frequent meals before and after your swim training. You should also not swim right after eating. Time your small meals within two to three hours before wearing your swim cap and goggles and taking a plunge.
3. Chow down slowly
Next, to eating light, you should also take smaller bites and make sure to chew your food thoroughly to prevent air ingestion. You are likely to swallow too much air and cause flatulence if you eat too quickly and take bites like a hungry monster.
4. Calm down before you swim
When you’re nervous, you are likely to take larger gulps of air than normal, thus increasing the amount of air you ingest while swimming. Before jumping onto the water, try calming exercises like yoga, stretching, and taking slow deep breaths. Being calm helps you take natural, controlled breaths in the pool.
5. Pay attention to your breathing techniques
Similar to your pre-workout meals, you should also be aware of your breathing techniques and take smaller, more frequent breaths. No matter how rapidly or vigorously you swim, try not to take large gulps of air. Increasing your breathing rate allows you to prevent taking in more air than you need.
For instance, if you usually gasp a big amount of air on every third stroke while performing the front crawl, you may switch to taking smaller breaths with every other stroke. If you’re unsure, you may consult your swim coach about your breathing techniques in the water.
6. Breathe through your nose
Doing this whenever possible is one good way to control the flow of air and prevent ingesting it. In swimming, you should always be exhaling except when your head is above the water in order to inhale. While you could breathe either out of the nose or the mouth, breathing through the nose lessens the chances you’ll swallow air and water.
Start at a slower pace when practicing this technique. Keep your face in the water and allow a stream of bubbles to slowly release from your nostrils. Apply this to all different swim strokes. Gradually increase your speed once you’re comfortable with it.
Carmina Natividad is one of the writers for Swimprint, a go-to shop for swimming enthusiasts, specializing in swim caps in the UK. While she’s fascinated by writing articles focused on sport fashion, health, and wellness, she swears to never give up pizza.