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Wetsuit calf cramps

Hi Everyone,

First post, although have read threads for a few months with interest.

Did Windsor on Sunday (first olympic distance triathlon since 2004 - 2hrs 39mins) and found I still get a bit of cramp in both calves when trying to get my wetsuit off.

I have tried trimming down the legs on the suit so it comes off easier, and use the chafe-ease lubricated stuff both on my legs and on the outside of the suit, but once again I had to resort to sitting on the floor and 'shoe-horning' the thing off.

Does anyone else suffer from this? Any tips? I really want to cut down my T1 time so any help anybody can give is most welcome!




  • madnursemadnurse Posts: 782
    hi stevo - half guessing here as it might be down to a number of things.

    1) your swim - are you increasing your kick as you come into towards the end of the swim. theory is to do so will increase circualtion through the leg pre running to T1.

    2) running into T1 - you may find you are running on balls of your feet (so your feet are arched) which can promote cramping in calf / foot when in T1. if possible run with a more natural roll of the foot

    3) wetsuit - again all granny & eggsucking but are you 'peeling' the suit off in one movement down over the leg. too long in one postion trying to sort out creasing & jams may induce cramping of the muscle if just fatigued.

    4) electrolyte / salt levels - caused by fluid imbalance another words are you hydrating enough before the swim. perhaps you need to take on board some liquid carbs in the hour before race time.

    i guess is that old adage though of practise practise ... look at each of the above and adjust each time you try a wetsuit swim. maybe even throwing in a few standing calf rasies in T1 before you peel the wetsuit off your legs might just be the answer. I blagged my local pool into allowing me to use a wetsuit so i could work on not just swimming in a suit but also on transitions

  • StevoStevo Posts: 7
    Hi madnurse,

    All look like good tips to me.

    I think I had the salt / hydration levels sorted pre race (although definitely suffered on the run!) and only this year I read the article in 220 about kicking legs more in the last section of the swim to stimulate blood flow to this area so this was tried too.

    It could be the running to T1 that was the issue, as I probably was running on the balls of my feet.

    Anyway, thanks for the different suggestions, only have one more olympic tri booked in for this year (South Coast Classic), but will try and alter some of my technique down at Heron Lake this summer.

    All the best,

  • ChrisChris Posts: 17
    Hi Stevo

    If your relatively new to the sport and not from a swimming background. You are using different types of energy systems and muscles.

    So if your not used to swimming this will most certainly be the cause!
  • StevoStevo Posts: 7
    Hey Chris,

    Well, I've only done about 12 triathlons, spread over 4 years and my swimming, although it is coming on, is certainly my weaker discline. I'll have to get myself down to Heron Lake in Wraysbury more often for the excellent open water swimming provided by SBR in Windsor.

    Anyone else go down there at all? I have only been a couple of times,

    but plan to get down there a few more times this summer

    Thanks for the response,


  • susiepsusiep Posts: 11
    Yes , I have this problem as well. I can stand on the suit with the opposite foot and yank the suit so it is nearly off and then it gets stuck.

    It is the action of pulling the leg upwards against the resistance of the suit which causes my cramp and it is that last bit which is especially difficult

    so I place both thumbs inside either side of the suit at my ankle and prise the suit over my heel which works ok

  • Hi Steveo,

    Have not made the effort yet to get down to Heron Lake have heard good venue though.

    Problem is do not have wet suit at moment do they hire them down there??

  • StevoStevo Posts: 7
    Hi susiep,

    I end up using much the same technique as you at the moment. The tips in the above posts are probably worth a go - especially the post from madnurse.

    Its the time at which I point my toes down and try to lift the foot out that cramp strikes - I end up sitting on the floor and levering the suit off!

    Hope you can perfect the technique! LEt me know if you have any success.

  • StevoStevo Posts: 7
    ooops, forgot to reply to Happy in the last post...

    Happy: Heron lake is pretty good. The water is very clean there and the times I have been down, it's all been very civilized with not too many people down there (so you don't end up with the start line at Windsor tri scenario!). They have pretty basic facilities, but there are showers there (outside) to rinse off yourself and your suit.

    I don't think they hire suits out down there, but this year, several of the wetsuit manufacturers are giving free trials of their wetsuits. I believe Ironman have already been down as well as one other (Aquaman possibly?). Try having a look here for news of wetsuit trials


    but also look in 220 magazine as they often advertise in there.

    Hope this helps...

  • RobRob Posts: 209
    Hey Stevo, I've had exactly the same problem, but not just swim to bike but also bike to run. I thought it might be hydration the first time it happened, or cold. But I've narrowed it down to the position of my foot & leg when I bend down & try & take the wetsuit off or take my cycle shoes off. If I stand up to undress it kicks in, if I sit down it doesn't.
  • Hi Stevo

    I've only done one sprint triathlon so far and hence am no expert, but I always had the same problem whenever I practiced taking off my wetsuit after an open water practice swim. At Blenheim I tried using bodyglide on the outside of the wetsuit bottoms and also on my ankles/heels, and it came straight off without any effort. I don't know if bodyglide is any better than other products but it seemed to make a difference on this occasion. Other than that, I've read that the wetsuit comes off more easily if it still has some of the lake water in it - i.e. you delay taking it off your arms until just before transition (rather than at the exit from the lake if you then have 200m or so to transition). I think the logic is that once the seal is broken the wetsuit dries out and hence shrinks, making it harder to get off.


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