Why Do You Feel Heavy After Swimming

Last Updated on August 1st, 2023

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Swimming is an excellent form of exercise and recreation for many people. But, sometimes, you can feel especially tired or heavy after you get out of the water.

If you feel heavy after swimming, you can’t imagine it. The greatest explanation for why you feel heavy after swimming is that your body has been supported by the buoyancy force of the water while swimming, and your body has to readjust to fighting gravity while standing upright.

If you want to learn more about why you feel heavy after swimming, why some people might feel heavy and some don’t, and more, keep reading for your answers.

Man's head floating on lake water - Why Do You Feel Heavy After Swimming

Why Do You Feel Heavy After Swimming?

There are two main reasons why your body might feel heavy after swimming:


  • Your body is extremely tired after the full body workout
  • You have to readjust to the pull of gravity after being almost weightless


People often complain about feeling heavy after a workout because they have pushed their muscles to the limit. Feeling heavy is a symptom of your muscles being tired but still having to work to keep you on your feet.

Another explanation that can happen in conjunction with feeling tired after an intense workout is that your body has simply forgotten what it feels like to fight against the force of gravity.

Water is much denser than air and therefore has a buoyancy force that helps counteract the force of gravity on your body.

It’s almost enough to make you feel weightless from the water’s support, and, after a long swim, you can feel heavy by contrast when out of the water and without its support.


Man's head floating on lake water - Why Do You Feel Heavy After Swimming

Is it a Good or a Bad Sign That You Feel Heavy After Swimming?

Feeling heavy after swimming isn’t necessarily a good or bad sign because it depends mostly on your perspective. However, feeling heavy after swimming could indicate that you did a thorough workout for many of the muscles in your body, and you feel tired.

That much exercise means you were more than likely in the water for a long time, so you are also probably readjusting to how you normally feel in daily life without the support of water’s buoyancy.

Being in the water that long, though, can have negative effects such as irritation to the skin and hair without the proper countermeasures. Sometimes, you have to accept the good and the bad in these scenarios.


Do All People Feel Heavy After Swimming?

Not all people feel heavy after swimming for basically the opposite reasons why people do feel heavy after swimming:


  • They did not swim the whole time and therefore did not work out their muscles enough to feel tired and heavy
  • They weren’t in the water long enough to get used to the feeling of near weightlessness


As you can see, a large factor when determining if people feel tired after swimming is how long they are in the water.

It’s also possible that professional swimmers and other athletes don’t feel heavy after swimming because their bodies are acclimated to intense exercise regimes, so they don’t feel the tired aspect of being heavy.


What Causes You To Feel Heavy After Swimming?

Tiredness is the most likely cause of why you feel heavy after swimming, especially if you were constantly moving around or even just treading water.

However, gravity can significantly impact us when we first get out of the water after a long swim.

The body takes a few moments to get its balance back after being in the water and has to learn how the muscles react to the force of gravity again before the heavy feeling goes away.

It’s also possible that your skin and hair have absorbed enough water that you feel slightly heavier than normal, but most people will probably find this difference to be negligible.


How Can You Stop Feeling so Tired?

We’ve discussed how the length of time you swim heavily affects how tired and heavy you feel. The solutions are, therefore, straightforward:


  • You can swim for shorter periods and allow the muscles to rest between sessions to reduce tiredness
  • Swimming short sessions will also keep your body from acclimating to the near-weightless sensation


Most people feel tired after rigorous exercise, but those who frequently train their bodies will recover from any tiredness they experience faster if they feel any tiredness at all. This means another solution to reduce the tired feeling after a swim is to exercise regularly.


Final Thoughts on Why Do You Feel Heavy After Swimming

A heavy feeling after swimming isn’t necessarily a cause for concern and is a natural phenomenon that many people experience.

You might be feeling heavy because you are tired after a long, hard swim, and your body has forgotten what it’s like to resist the force of gravity by itself.

The heavy sensation should go away fairly quickly after swimming as your body readjusts to life on dry land but if not, consider visiting a doctor to see if there is an underlying issue at hand.