Respiratory muscle 'fatigue' after long swim?

LynneLynne Member
edited September 2014 in General Discussion
I've noticed twice now, once after a 14km open water swim and more recently after a 25km swim in a 50m outdoor pool that in addition to the normal muscle soreness the following day, I also have 'difficulty' taking deep breaths. I'm wondering if this is due to the deeper than normal breathing for extended periods of time and subsequently soliciting the diaphragm and intercostal muscles more than normal? It lasts a few days, and I'm not asthmatic. Anyone else experience this?


  • gregocgregoc Charter Member
    Yes. I get the same thing, but only after long training swims 6+ hours in a pool. I think it has to do with breathing in the chlorine.
  • gregocgregoc Charter Member
    Mild chemical pneumonia. Google it.
  • LynneLynne Member
    edited September 2014
    Happens in open water too, so could it be more than the chlorine effect? Googled mild chemical pneumonia - not nice.
  • Also called SIPE or something like that. pulmonary edema...

    Looking for the next big thing.. ... @suzieswimcoach

  • JenAJenA Charter Member
    edited September 2014
    I experienced similar difficulty breathing the first time I went over 19 hours. I was having so much trouble moving air that the ER actually gave me a device to fire a blue ("rescue") inhaler into. Otherwise, I could not breathe deeply enough to get the medication down to my lungs. I could slowly breathe the aerosolized air from the device, and ensure the medication was absorbed that way.

    The blue inhaler was a miracle for me. Albuterol/Ventolin.

    The ER said it was just because I had overused my lungs. The inhaler help to release them.
  • rosemarymintrosemarymint Charleston, SCCharter Member
    I'd expect you can cause your diaphragm/intercostal to fatigue, just like any other muscle. And you can overuse your lungs, even if you're not an asthmatic. Is the difficulty because you can't engage the muscle too breathe in or is it that the air won't go in? If it's the latter, you might want to have a pulminologist work-up to look at lung health/asthma. If it's the former, then I don't know if there is a solution. I've had anesthesia that affected my diaphragm and it's a very strange (and scary) feeling -- and very different that tightness from asthma.
  • Thanks rosemarymint, I can engage the muscle to breathe but there is a sort of tightness/restriction which makes deep breathing uncomfortable. I can take air in no problem.
  • rosemarymintrosemarymint Charleston, SCCharter Member
    The fatigue might be more rib muscle related, or it could be lung-related. The diaphragm fatigue would feel like you can't engage the muscle to take the breath in at all or you can only take in a tiny amount of air (and thus breathe in at a much more rapid pace.) Regardless, I'd see a doctor just to rule out anything serious.
  • loneswimmerloneswimmer IrelandCharter Member
    I'd like to add a note of caution also, as much to myself as others. I was just about to start a draft blog post on a relevant part of this subject. We are all swimmers, all involved in the same nonsense. We therefore often find ourselves discussing relevant physical and medical concerns & issues here and offering suggestions. But every online medical discussion should come with a warning.

    You should always see a medical professional in person. Respiratory issues post-swimming are not normal. It could be simple but it could be other things and since IANAD, I won't preempt a real diagnosis with my guesses.

  • LS I was not looking for a diagnosis, simply to hear if other people had experienced anything similar. I'm cautious with my health and if it persists and causes me enough concern or discomfort I would naturally seek a medical opinion. Sorry, you lost me on IANAD?
  • Lynne wrote:
    Sorry, you lost me on IANAD?

    I am not a doctor.
  • wendyv34wendyv34 Vashon, WASenior Member
    I've experienced intercostal fatigue on multiple occasions after racing hard for 4-5K or longer. It usually goes away after a couple of days, just like the rest of my muscle soreness. I think it starts to happen after 4-5K because I usually don't train at race intensity for more than about 3500m in a workout.

    It's always a bad hair day when you work at a pool.

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