There has always been this old saying that recommends one to wait for at least 30 minutes after a meal before entering a pool for a swim. This is actually based on the concept of digestion. After a heavy meal such as lunch or dinner, blood will be diverted towards your stomach’s digestive tract instead of your arms and legs. It is known that if your limbs do not get sufficient blood flow to function, you could end up being at the risk of drowning.
However, is this advice accurate or is it purely because parents simply want to take a break to relax after a heavy lunch? When a recharged child want to get back in the water, it may feel like an eternity for parents. Firstly, it is true that digestion does redirect some of the blood from the muscles to assist in the digestive process. With this lower blood flow, there is potentially lesser oxygen available to the working muscle and stomach. This could possibly lead to cramping although there are some researchers who might disagree on this theory.
Cramps are basically involuntary contractions of skeletal muscle that can occur either during or after exercise. They tend to occur due to fatigue. However, there are also many other factors that can play a part. These factors include dehydration, electrolyte imbalance and neurological fatigue, which are unique to every individual. However, the truth is that we still do have more than sufficient blood to keep all of our body parts working after a big meal.
Aside from cramps, stitch can also be another risk factor for swimming after eating. It is a sharp pain that occurs just below the rib cage. They are perceived as being caused by the cramping of the diaphragm due to the constraint of blood flow from pressure from the lungs above and the abdomen below.
Just like any other vigorous exercise immediately after a heavy meal, discomforts such as heartburn or vomiting can happen. They tend to be cause by unexpected reflux or involuntary regurgitation. They are also more likely to occur when there’s an increase in external pressure.
Swimming on a full stomach can be rather uncomfortable. In fact, it can also lead to vomiting if it is too vigorous. However, it is very unlikely to put you at the risk of drowning. Nonetheless, it is still not ideal to do on a full stomach. For more details, you can check it out here.
At Happy Fish Swim School, we do recommend our students to give an allowance of 30 minutes as well before going for a swim. This is more towards preventing cramps and vomiting from occurring. Do check out our website for the available classes we have to offer.