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5 Things You Should Never Do Right After Scuba Diving

5 Things You Should Never Do Right After Scuba Diving

As new divers maybe you know what you SHOULD be doing, but do you know what you SHOULDN’T be doing after diving? In fact, this is not just for new divers, as many seasoned divers don’t know these facts.

Planning a dive requires a great deal of preparation combined with numerous safety checks that must be completed beforehand. This process is stressed and explained in great detail during open water certification.

However, the safety considerations after diving are not as thorough and new divers may not know what should not be done after a dive. Here is a list of 5 things you should not do right after diving. GTS member Katie Piedrahita tells us more.

1. No flying after diving

Flying after scuba diving is one of the more widely known risks to divers. This issue comes up frequently in the diving world because divers want to take full advantage of diving trips and get the most amount of diving time in while they can.

The main reason for this warning is not the flying itself, but the pressure inside the airplane’s cabin.  Air pressure lessens when you fly. If you rode in a plane right after diving the increase in altitude would result in a drop in pressure which is comparable to a fast ascension while diving.

The longer the dive and the deeper you go the more nitrogen is absorbed into your blood. Upon returning to the surface the pressure reduces and the nitrogen reverts to gas bubbles.

View out of an airplane window of peachy coloured clouds at dusk, with the plane wing visible. Overlaid white text reads "no flying after diving" with a teal cross icon.

Decompression needs to be done slowly so the nitrogen can pass back out through your lungs. If you ascend too fast the nitrogen can form bubbles in your blood which can be painful and possibly fatal (think of opening a bottle of soda when it’s been shaken up). 

Waiting the correct amount of time before flying will reduce the nitrogen in your blood. The general rule that seems to be widely agreed upon is that you should wait 12 hours after a single no-decompression dive, 18 hours after multiple dives or multiple days of diving and at least 24 hours after dives requiring decompression stops.

As a general rule it is recommended to wait 24 hours before flying after doing any type of diving. This rule covers all types of dives and adds extra time as a safeguard for peace of mind.

2. Don’t go zip-lining after scuba diving

Ziplining usually occurs on a mountain or elevated area and should be avoided for 24 hours after a dive due to the altitude. With ziplining,  going to a higher altitude may trigger decompression sickness.

Woman ziplining through lush green forest. Overlaid white text reads "no ziplining after diving" with a teal cross.

Many ziplining companies will clearly state they will not allow people to zipline if they have been scuba diving with the past 24 hours. Sounds strange to newcomers, but makes sense when you know the science.

3. Avoid heavy drinking after diving

This may be a controversial subject for many, but it is no secret that many divers enjoy drinks after a day of diving. Drinking alcohol immediately after a dive is not recommended. Alcohol may affect the way that our body eliminates that excess nitrogen.

Three women drinking beer on the beach at sunset. Overlaid white text reads "avoid heavy drinking after diving", with a teal cross symbol.

Dehydration is one of the main causes in decompression sickness, and drinking alcohol is one of the most efficient ways to dehydrate ourselves.

Another important reason to avoid heavy drinking after a dive is because being heavily intoxicated can mask the true symptoms of decompression sickness. This means that adequate medical care may be sought too late.

To avoid any problems, drink plenty of water before and after diving to combat dehydration. Most of all try and wait a few hours before drinking alcohol to prevent any mishaps.

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4. No mountain climbing after diving

Mountain climbing should be avoided in the first 24 hours after a dive. This again is due to the change in altitude when ascending a mountain. As with flying and ziplining,  changes in altitude can cause decompression sickness.

A woman's foot climbing a reddish stone mountain, with clouds in the background. Overlaid white text reads "no mountain climbing after diving", with a teal cross symbol.

If you are planning to also go mountain climbing along with scuba diving, do the mountain climbing first to avoid any potential dangers. It is perfectly safe to go climbing before a dive. This may be an easy solution to enjoy your trip whilst also staying safe.

The bottom line is that altitude exposure is altitude exposure. There are really no exceptions to the rules and ignoring them only increases the dangers of decompression sickness.  Rule of thumb – keep your feet planted on the ground after you dive — if only for a little while.


5. Avoid massages after diving

Getting a massage after a long day of diving may seem like a great way to unwind but massage should MAYBE be avoided after diving. Massage will increase blood flow and this in turn can possibly move smaller nitrogen bubbles into one large bubble, although there have been no known cases of DCS because of massage.

Deep tissue massage is strongly advised against because it has the potential to cause soreness in the body which may lead to misdiagnosis of decompression sickness after a dive.

Close up of a black woman's back being massaged by two hands. Overlaid white text reads "avoid massages after diving", with a teal cross symbol.

Here’s what DAN has to say about massages after diving.

“There is no clear sense of what massage might do and this effect would likely vary depending on dive profiles and intensity of the massage. We should note that massage has not been confidently associated with any of the cases of DCS that have come to us, and we are not aware of any study done to address this question. The clearest piece of advice is that deep tissue massage should probably be avoided, so that the potential of post-dive pain and diagnostic confusion are minimized.”

Dr. Nick Bird MD

Did you know you should be avoiding these activities after diving? Share this with a new diver, and continue the conversation in our Facebook group!

Katie Piedrahita

About the Author
Katie Piedrahita is a recent open water graduate who almost did not become certified due to panic and claustrophobia in completing certain skills such as mask clearing. Once she was able to accomplish this skill a magical underwater world was opened for her. Katie can now not get enough and is constantly looking for and researching new dive destinations. Katie loves to travel and has a 16 year old son who is her dive buddy.