Home Chat General Chat

cramp during open water swims

Hi, Im a bit of a tri newbie, on each of my open water swims, training or race I have experienced excruciating cramp in both my calves - think its down to the cold water. Worst case ever was in london tri on sunday when i spent about 10 mins faffing till my legs calmed down enough to swim again

any tips to avoid or overcome?


  • Options
    TommiTriTommiTri Posts: 879
    I think there was questions about this that came up quite recently, and you will receive a very varied response as there are differing opinions on the causes of cramp.

    So I'm going to give you my opinion!

    I am on the stretch receptor side of cramp, simply due to the fact that I have only every experienced cramp when I was stretching to touch the floor when waiting at a junction on the bike. So I had a theory that the cramp experienced in the calf by some swimmers may be due to over-stretching of the calf, due to the pointing of the toes. I used to point my toes in the pursuit of a longer leg whilst swimming, until I learnt that the ankle has to be a relaxed as possible, and that good swimmers just had insanely flexible ankles, allowing their foot to extend at the ankle joint so it forms a flipper!

    I tested this theory on a friend of mine who experienced a lot of calf cramp whilst swimming, even though he didn't think he was pointing his toes, he was a runner so had very inflexible ankles, so he was actually pointing them to compensate without really thinking about it. So he started to concentrate on relaxed ankles, he hasn't had cramp since! I may be wrong, but this seems to support my thoughts on the matter!
  • Options
    HodgsonHodgson Posts: 13
    I experienced really bad cramps in the swim at London. This was my first open water swim and I had never had cramps in the pool training. I've spoken to a few people about it and have been advised to drink some salt water just before the start of a race. Also make sure your properly hydrated and eat foods which are high in potassium.
  • Options

    The following is just my PoV from experience. I often get cramp in my calf when swimming in the pool. It happens when I'm swimming with a very lazy leg kick i.e. I'm trailing my legs and pointing my toes without kicking.

    To resolve it without stoppng I start kicking. It sounds counter intuitive, but kicking moves the ankle and stretches the calf without having to stop. I've also started stretching my ankles to increase flexibility and this has also improved it. Hope this helps
  • Options
    transittransit Posts: 163
    I suffer with this as well. I get it in the pool too, particularly with butterfly kicking, I think due to the reasons detailed above. If I am kicking harder it doesn't happen.

    I do find drinking an isotonic sports drink stops it happening - I guess salt water would do the same
  • Options
    3-pence worth

    have to agree on last point, since I barely kick my legs while swimming my calf starts to cramp slightly both in pool and open water.

    building even a gentle kick during a session or within a race certainly helps, especially when preparing to come out of the water to prevent wobbly legs
Sign In or Register to comment.