Nausea from rolling

I attended my first rolling lesson today. A paddle buddy and I shared the lesson and we took turns working with the instructor while the other watched.

At the end of my third turn I was a little dizzy and nauseous, to the extent of almost barfing. As I rested and watched most of the feeling went away, it took about 15 minutes. I got the same feeling paddling through swells to a surf zone two weeks ago. I get the same feeling when I’m using a box scraper on the back of my tractor and I’m continuously turning my head to look behind me.

I’ve bobbed up and down in fishing boats off the coast and never been sea sick on board but I did get sea sick once swimming in on top of the surf at the end of a scuba dive many years ago.

Whats going on? Is it sea sickness? I get dizzy pretty easily. Did I get cold water in my ear? Is it vertigo?

What solutions do you suggest? I want to try something before my next roll lesson.


Cold Water - Other Causes
If you did the rolling in cold water - that can be just below 60 F - it can cause symptoms of disorientation and nausea, I’ve had it happen in much colder water.

Also you might want to talk to your doctor about an inner ear disorder.énière’s_disease

Nausea from rolling
In addition to talking to your doctor, reduce the amount of times you’re rolling in a session. I once took at ‘combat rolling’ class ironically from a former drill sergeant (Blake Blakely). He he had us practing 20+ rolls at at time in a pool. I defintitely was dizzy after.

I also get sea sick often and have found that fatigue can increase my likelyhood of getting sick. Once before an open swell paddling session I had slept poorly the night before which affected me on the water.


You Could Try Ginger
I don’t know about rolling-induced nausea but some doses of ginger prevent me from getting seasick.

Pikabike clued me in to crystallized ginger slices from the supermarket. I start snacking on those the day before and the day of ‘conditions’ and I feel fine.

Use ear plugs
Water in ear is a contributing factor to nausea. It may not solve all of it, but using ear plugs will remove at least one part of it. And constantly wet ears can leave you with otitis. If you value your hearing it is best to plug your ears for extended wet work anyway.

You can use the drug store things for swimming, moldable silicone plugs, for now. But if you are serious about this I suggest you go online or to your nearest WW shop (they have them in stock around here) and get Doc’s Plugs. They have to be sized, but the dive shop we got our first set from sent a sizing chart first for us to pick the right sizes. It’ll take a second person to do this, but it’s a great idea.

Get them tethered, vented (tiny hole to equalize pressure, stays dry and you can hear) and in a color. We found out very fast that finding one small clear plastic floating oval in any water is just about impossible.

If it is also motion sickness, try slowing things down a little to give your balance time to catch up. And the ginger…

dizziness when rolling

– Last Updated: Apr-22-12 11:29 AM EST –

I have experienced this a few times. All steps mentioned above could help: avoid cold water, reduce the number of roll in a session, use ear plugs, consider inner ear issues. There is one more consideration I will add.

Review any meds you are taking to see if dizziness or nausea are mentioned as a side effects. I had increasing dizziness last summer and fall. I had already stopped kayak rolling after experiencing dizziness and nausea. Scanning the tree line to see what bird was chirping induced brief disorientation. The final straw was when I turned my head while driving to look in the side view mirror and felt brief dizziness.

I stopped the two recycled blood pressure drugs I was prescribed for other reasons (my blood pressure is within normal range) and the dizziness has gone away. Well meaning MDs, under the influence of the drug pushers, actually believe the drug side effects are "rare". For many people they are common and substantial.


I have a tendancy to motion sickness too
I have found that if a new activity causes me to have motion sickness it often fades away with time in the saddle. One activity that caused my a lot of motion sickness in the beginning is Contra Dancing. If you are familiar with contra dancing you know it involves and lot of swinging (think spinning around and around with a partner). I recall the first few times dancing I got so dizzy and sick feeling I had to stop and lie down. But with time it went away completely and now I experience no motion sickness at all while dancing.

I get nauseous when I get fluid
build up in my inner ear, usually brought on by allergies. See a doc like recommended.

Fluid in ear

– Last Updated: Apr-22-12 8:51 PM EST –

That's the only time I've gotten dizzy or nauseous from rolling. I usually wear Doc's vented ear plugs, often combined with a neoprene cap also. The combo prevents the waterlogged-ear syndrome yet allows better hearing than wearing nonvented ear plugs. It also keeps the head warm!

Having said that, I believe motion sickness is similar to altitude sickness in some ways:

1) If you're sleep-deprived, you're more susceptible.
2) If you're dehydrated, you're more susceptible.
3) If you've been ill recently, you're more susceptible.
4) If you've been drinking alcohol, you're more susceptible.
5) Anybody can get it; it's just a matter of the wrong combination of precedents setting you up to get it. So minimize the factors that contribute to it, by avoiding the 4 items above plus wearing ear protection AND nose clips. Nose clips prevent cold water from flooding your sinuses, which HURTS if it's freshwater. Pain cannot possibly be good for minimizing nausea.

As for ginger, I was passing along that tidbit to Kudzu after reading that it helped prevent motion sickness. I'm really glad he found it useful, but I have no experience using it for that purpose myself, so far. I do like the way it tastes so I plan to keep some in my kit once I am regularly paddling saltwater.

Consider vertigo
My wife has it and none of the remedies suggested will work. Only a physician can give you a diagnosis and a treatment. If that is not it, then try the other suggestions. I would try the ginger before I tried seasick pills.

Good advice

– Last Updated: Apr-23-12 7:55 AM EST –

Especially No. 5 - Anybody can get it. It has to do with body chemistry.

I almost never get it but have once in a while when rolling. Ginger in the diet helps a lot.

Forget going to the doctor unless it's so chronic and constant that it disrupts your life. It's not abnormal. Also, you get used to doing things you do regularly.

this reminds me
Of the classic joke about if something hurts then don’t do it. There a ton of reasons for vertigo, dizziness and the like. Most are harmless. Maybe you have just grown into some motion sickness.

Ryan L.

Same thing with me in class
a few years ago with Roger Schumann. Three things helped.

  1. I don’t eat for about 4-5 hours in advance of the class, or just a very light snack a couple hours in advance.

  2. Bonine motion sickness tablets - I’ve not gotten seriously motion sick from any circumstances if I have taken one at least an hour prior.

  3. Pepto tablets. I sometimes take these if I get the ill feeling in the gut rather than dizziness.

    Being able to roll is such a fun and liberating thing, that it is very worth finding out what will work for you, so that you can learn and enjoy the process.

    Good luck.

Personal Experience
I also got dizzy and nauseous when working on rolling. For me ear plugs made the biggest difference. I am a fan of Doc’s vented and tethered ear plugs. For some time now, if I am going to be really working on rolling I also wear a dive mask. Keeping water out of my sinuses and out of my eyes makes it a much more pleasant experience. For normal rolling (not repeatedly rolling within a sort time) I only use plugs if the water is cold and a mask or nose plugs if in fresh water.

Any past head injuries?
Or even a sharp blow? I literally cracked my skull like an egg in a helmetless bicycle crash 35 years ago (fracture, concussion, unconscious for 45 minutes). Thought I had completely recovered until I tried to ride an amusement park ride 5 years later and got so nauseated I was queasy for 48 hours. Had similar trouble when I tried to study Aikido and came up with the room spinning after each tumble flip. Doc diagnosed that the accretions within my inner ear that monitor balance and positioning had been knocked awry. He taught me a simple maneuver for getting them settled back in place and it does work most of the time. And ingesting ginger does help some too. It would not hurt to ask your doc next time you have an appointment to rule out physical problems.

On that note, I used to get carsick and seasick as a child and teen but after I started doing Hatha Yoga in college that all went away. This was traditional yoga, however, not the gimmicky Western-style competitive overstretching junk that is marketed as “yoga” at most studios anymore.