acid reflux & rowing

General discussions about getting and staying fit that don't relate directly to your indoor rower

acid reflux & rowing

Postby johnf » September 11th, 2006, 3:29 pm

Hi everyone--

Has anyone ever had a problem with acid reflux caused by or made worse by rowing?

I never had a problem with acid reflux before--but my doctor speculates that the pressure from continually bending at the waist is forcing stomach acid into my throat. It is unpleasant to walk around with a foul taste in my mouth, a diminished appetite, and a stomach queasy enough to be annoying. Not a major problem now, but one that could be if it isn't taken care of...

I think part of the problem is that once I took my rower out of the box--it arrived the first week in August--I simply overdid it. That, in other words, rather than gradually acclimating my body to rowing (I'd used a rower only once before buying my C2), I rowed too often and for too long. What can I say? I was having fun, and it was startling how quickly I started dropping weight.

My hope is that the problem is a temporary one--that, as I get fitter and leaner, there won't be any spare tire around my waist to get in the way! A woman at the gym near my house also suggested slightly altering my stroke (i.e., keeping my back straight rather than bending forward).

Anyone else have this problem?
Any advice?


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Postby johnlvs2run » September 11th, 2006, 4:39 pm

Acid reflux is caused by the foods you eat, not by exercise.

For example if you eat a fat and/or animal protein meal that takes a long time to digest, then eat fruit or other carbohydrates, the foods will sit and create a fermenting mess in your stomach. Of course if you exercise then it will come back up in your throat.

It helps to eat single foods at a time, and only eat the ones that do combine and digest well together.
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Postby afolpe » September 11th, 2006, 5:06 pm

Certainly the types of foods you are eating may contribute to reflux- classic associations are with things like alcohol, chocolate, minty things, very acid things. Interestingly, many of these are foods we eat after dinner, presumably because they tend to loosen the lower esophageal sphincter, and allow us to belch after a large meal. So, try to figure out foods that bother you, and then don't eat them for several hours before rowing. You might also try rowing first thing in the morning, perhaps just having a yogurt or something light, just to "prime the pump". Excess weight can also contribute to reflux, so you will probably find this problem improving as you lose weight. You might also experiment with chewable antacids, like Tums/Rolaids- these will often neutralize a bit of excess acid, so that you will not notice a small amount of reflux.

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Postby rtmmtl » September 11th, 2006, 5:42 pm

I do not want to frighten you....but......

Several years I had the same symptoms you have and thought it was Acid Reflux had a few tests and tried different medications, nothing worked saw a heart guy, had a treadmill test, passed no problem.......then when the test was finished, sitting with cables still connected, began to have chest pain, I told the doctor and he did an EKG.....all was fine. The problem continued so I went to another heart guy and he ordered an angiogram (sic) (the roto-roter of the arteries) and bad news. So they cleared them out right there and no further problems.

So, it could be your heart/circulation.....check out the big picture. Best wishes.
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Postby rtmmtl » September 11th, 2006, 5:45 pm

This is an add on to my previous.

The point I was trying to make, and forgot to mention, is that your EKG, your heart may test fine (up to a point) but your arteries could be a problem.

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor - I don't even play one on TV
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Postby johnf » September 12th, 2006, 1:18 pm

Thanks, everyone, for your advice--

Rtmmtl, I appreciate your notes; I did have a treadmill test--it was fine--but I will ask my doctor about my arteries. And I think I will try afolpe's and John Rupp's suggestions about monitoring what and when I eat and rowing first thing in the morning. The rower gives me a cardio workout I actually enjoy, and it was great to get some practical advice about ways to successfully deal with a problem that's getting in the way.

With thanks,

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Re: acid reflux & rowing

Postby Alissa » September 12th, 2006, 2:03 pm

Hi John,

When I read your post, the first thing I keyed on was when you spoke about "continually bending at the waist", as there is no reason you should be bending at the waist at all. The rock-over or pivot to a forward body angle should be from the hip joint (not the top of your pelvis). As I read further, I saw that someone had already advised you to "keep your back straight." Start by sitting on your "sitz bones" on the front part of the seat, sit up very tall and erect, then remember you're pivoting forward & backward from the hip should stay "tall" the whole time.

I think that may help some...but if you haven't had someone look at your stroke, that might also be useful.

Good luck w/ the reflux.

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Postby LJWagner » September 12th, 2006, 2:35 pm

If you are going to have a hard workout, do it a good 2 hours after a meal. Bigger the meal, longer the wait. Why ? Digestion takes blood flow, just like exercise, except to the intestines vs the muscles.

Athletes used to joke about someone losing their lunch, or tossing their cookies. Mainly from eating to close to a hard workout. Acid reflux can be a lesser symptom.

Working out before you eat may be the only change you need to make.
Do your warm-ups, and cooldown, its not for you, its for your heart ! Live long, and row forever !
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Postby RowtheRockies » September 12th, 2006, 7:12 pm


I don't really have advice for you but wanted to let you know that the first few weeks after I received my rower, I noticed the same problem and I have never had any problems with heart burn. It was a little annoying but not overly painful. It was definitely tied to the rowing because it always came on right after a row. It mysteriously resolved itself after about a month and I have not noticed it since (last 6 months).

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Postby johnf » September 13th, 2006, 3:28 pm

Rich, I hope I find as you did that the problem is temporary, though (as LJ and Alissa suggested) yesterday I made sure I rowed well after eating and made sure I kept my back straight as I rowed. Thanks! John F
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Postby drkcgoh » October 11th, 2006, 5:08 pm

Erging is so easy to overdo, but over-reaching & overtraining are so hard to get over. Last month a young Dr. bought his own C2, and trained so hard that he lost a few Kg the first week. Now he's so unwell from nausea and tiredness that he had to take medical leave. His 2K times improved so much that he thought he was heading for the national championships. Now he's learned his lesson (I hope) about his own natural athletic capability, and erging for health.
So erg on for health. I know I am only a minnow at 65, but carry on my 20K+ daily(immediately after heavy meals) at a sedate 2:50 pace mixed with 10K+ of race walking in the morning & weight training in the afternoons. I know I can never make it to the CRASH Bs, but I'm staying off any pills/supplements (enjoying all the good food, while keeping under 149 lbs), & coming up to the top of page 2 on the Honor Board.
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