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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Leg Cramps While Swimming?

I had a question posted to me a few days ago from a fellow swimmer in Massachusetts. He was wondering why he always got lower leg cramping during swim workouts, especially during kick sets with fins. Then, over the last day or so at Master's Swim practice, I have heard a few other swimmers talking about cramps as well. I gave Jeff some advice and hopefully it will be useful to you as well.

Jeff,

You have a very common problem- lower legs cramping while swimming, especially using fins. Good news: you are normal :) Let me tell you what you can do to help this problem get better. Your ankles are probably not as flexible as they can be. So, you need to take some time to stretch your ankles using an elastic band, pulling back on your toes, actively extending and flexing the ankles. You can also sit on your legs where your ankles are directly under your tush and lean backward- if that is not too much. You might need to work up to that. Essentially, your calves are what are cramping because during your kick, your feet are plantar flexed the entire time- it is essentially like you are wearing high heels throughout the entire workout. If your ankles lack flexibility, you will run into problems holding this position for any extended period of time- for you, at the 40-60 minute mark. It has nothing to do with what you are eating/drinking- even though drinking enough water is very important.

I would work on your flexibility of your ankles and also do some calf raises at the pool prior to your workout. You can do your raises at the edge of the pool or in the gutter if you are able to hang onto a starting block and hold on safely. Try this and let me know if you notice a difference.

Have a great day! Enjoy your workouts.

15 comments:

Jeff said...

Love the new look to the site....it, like you, ROCKS! thanks for the plug. it's so nice that you are trying to help me get business. btw, more pics of you is always going to lead to a better site design :)

Penelope said...

Thanks for the info on the leg cramps. I was a competitive swimmer all my life, took a few years off to participate in some dryland sports, only to return to swimming and find that I can't make it through a one-hour workout without lower leg cramps. It's so frustrating! I will work on ankle flexibility and stretch my calves more than I have been. Thanks!

Carol said...

Penelope,
Did the flexibility idea give you
any results?

J-LA said...

I am a new swimmer - just got in the pool about a month ago after signing up for my first sprint tri coming up in about a month. I am a runner. I have been getting terrible leg cramps after only a few mins in the pool. They are in my calves and feet. I will try your ankle strengthening suggestion but don't know what calf raises are. Can you explain? Also, I am a big high heel wearer, so should this be happening to me at all? Could it be something else?

Leg cramping said...

Ever though that this could be due to mineral deficiency, possibly potassium and magnesium?

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