View Full Version : What to do when getting cramps on your feet?

October 15th, 2008, 11:31 PM
Today I got terrible cramps on my feet soon after started, and had to quit after less than 15 min. When you get a cramp in the middle of practice and it doesn't recover promptly, do you just get out of the pool or continue?

October 16th, 2008, 01:16 AM
for me it depends on where the cramp is, how much I feel like fighting it, and how far along I am in practice.

most of the time I get cramps it's after a pulling set, then going into a kicking set. if I get a cramp that prevents me from only doing breaststroke, then I kick free or fly, but if the cramp prevents me from doing anything I get out.

I have swum 20-30 with calf and toe cramps. it's not easy swimming with your foot 90 deg, but it can be done. it's hamstring cramps that usually stop me for the day.

if I get a cramp in the beginning of a practice I usually ask myself why. and start drinking more water and eating more bananas before the next practice or two.

October 16th, 2008, 01:18 AM
I used to get this quite often when I started up swimming again last year. It was particularly bad in the arch of my foot and seemed to happen most often when I was pushing off strongly from the wall with my toes pointed. Typically it would happen towards the end of a practice when I was fatigued.

I tried all sorts of sports drinks etc but nothing really worked. I just 'grew out' of it as my fitness improved. I still get it every now and then but nothing like I used to.

It never debilitated me to the point where I had to get out of the pool. I would just stop, bend my toes backward and forward, massage the arch of my foot and continue without pushing off so hard the next time. Usually it would just go away.

October 16th, 2008, 07:52 AM
I'm with Syd. Mine have pretty much away unless I do a lot of kicking with fins. Then I massage the foot and also stretch the toes against the pool wall.

October 16th, 2008, 08:03 AM
One thing I've realized in the past months is that if my calves and hamstrings are not stretched beforehand, cramps in the foot are much more likely to happen.


October 16th, 2008, 08:12 AM
A friend wih MS has told me drinking Tonic Water (yes as in Gin and Tonic) helps with the cramps.

If you're struggling with cramps regularly maybe trying a glass of Tonic Water pre practice may help, or just including it in your diet.:wine:

Redbird Alum
October 16th, 2008, 09:01 AM
I use both of what Alison and Jin said:
1. stretch prior to workout
2. if a cramp happens, stretch and massage it

... but I never get out, once I have the cramp under relative control, I will continue to swim, using an exagerated kick with alot of flipper-like motion until the muscle loosens up. Then it's back at it!

If I get out, the muscle will be sore alot longer.

October 16th, 2008, 09:40 AM
If you're struggling with cramps regularly maybe trying a glass of Tonic Water pre practice may help, or just including it in your diet.:wine:

"Seriously, coach. Dr. Stud told me to start drinking those gin and tonics before workout (hic)."

The quinine in tonic water has long been associated with helping to reduce muscle cramps. Some of the over the counter pills you can buy for muscle cramping use quinine as their chief ingredient. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quinine

October 16th, 2008, 09:56 AM
My coach told me that as soon as you get a cramp, you should get out of the pool and rub it down. He said that the cold will keep the muscle tight and make hit hard to get rid of it quickly. I don't know how true that is, but one of the girls on our team had a bad foot cramp last week. She got out right away and was back in the pool after a few minutes or so.

October 16th, 2008, 10:41 AM
Foot cramps I swim through. They are annoying, but not bad enough to stop swimming for. With calf cramps I usually need to stop and wait for it to ease before starting to swim again. There are times that the cramp comes back as soon as I start swimming. Typically this occurs at the very end of practice for me, so it's no big deal. Those calf cramps are terrible. If I get a bad one my leg will be sore for a few days afterward.

October 16th, 2008, 10:56 AM
Thanks. I got out of the pool after having tried bending and stretching my toes and arch for quite a while. I started getting the cramps during backstroking (which I guess is easier to cause foot cramps than other strokes?). Maybe I should do the bending and strentching outside the pool as mjgold's coach suggested, then go back in the pool after recovering, but it was quite late yesterday so I simply quitted.

I wonder if there are people who never get cramps during swimming?

October 16th, 2008, 11:40 AM
I haven't gotten a cramp while swimming yet, but I've only been at it for a month or so. It wouldn't hurt to try getting out right away. If it doesn't work, it's not like you've lost anything.

October 16th, 2008, 02:20 PM
I wonder if there are people who never get cramps during swimming?

I've never gotten cramps when swimming, although I've faked a few to get out of a set when I was a youth swimmer. :)

Typhoons Coach
October 16th, 2008, 03:27 PM
Bananas, water, lots of warm-up....definitely agree not to get out of the pool unless it is a hamstring cramp and it is debilitating.

Doug Adamavich
October 16th, 2008, 04:02 PM
As I age, I notice that I get foot (arch) cramps more. Part of this is I have very small feet (size 8.5) for a tall (5'11") and athletic (188 lbs.) guy.

So what do I do about it?

I have always consumed bananas and water. But that is not enough. When the cramps get really bad I do one or more of the following:

*Bio Freeze gel
*Freeze a wine bottle and roll it with my arches
*Drink more electrolytes

All of these help but I still sometimes get them.

October 16th, 2008, 04:45 PM
I used to be sure that I took calcium to ward off cramps. I used to go to my drugstore and purchase a liquid calcium.

Have look here for treatment of cramps http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=47633

October 16th, 2008, 06:42 PM
I have always consumed bananas and water.

I have heard about bananas due to its potasium content, but always thought it's purely theoretical. I would be interested if there is a real-life proof of this. Did you notice any difference by just eating more bananas before swimming? If it really helps, we could also take a potasium supplement pill :)

October 16th, 2008, 06:54 PM
It may not just be a potasium problem. I suggest you read here. http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=47633

October 16th, 2008, 07:47 PM
My feet are much more likely to cramp when I don't get enough sleep. I remember getting an awful calf cramp in HS swimming when I'd stayed up late writing a paper and I'd only gotten 2 hours of sleep.

Allen Stark
October 16th, 2008, 08:39 PM
I have found stretching my arch before I swim helps.I usually swim through foot cramps if I get them by stretching my toes up as I swim.I got a cramp in my R foot as I dove in in the 50 BR at 06 worlds,that was distracting at a time I REALLY didn't need to be distracted.:censor:

October 16th, 2008, 10:08 PM
Ugh this has been an all-too-often-problem for me lately. I do a pulling set and then foot cramp time, they're more in my toe area. The cramps used to be brief and I could return to swimming after massaging my foot. Now once I get one during practice it can go away for a few minutes after massaging it, but as soon as I start swimming it's horrible cramps and it cycles like that. They've cut my last three practices short. :(

October 16th, 2008, 10:21 PM
Reasons for foot cramps -

#1 You are not in condition.

#2 You are forcing your toes to point.

#3 You kick to hard after pulling.

Many other reasons probably not any thing to do with potasium or calcium.

jim thornton
October 16th, 2008, 10:35 PM
I, too, used to get them all the time, maybe a little more in cold weather. They seem to come and go. You can kick through them by making your feet go at right angles to your legs. It does slow you down, though. At meets, I make sure to take something to keep my feet warm, and I sometimes put my feet in hot water before a race. Don't know if there is any real raionale for this, but no cramps yet during a race, knock on wood...

October 16th, 2008, 11:33 PM
At this point, I'm ready to amputate my feet so I wish you very much good luck!!!

Water, stretching, bananas, all great ideas. My favorite stretch is to stand on the edge of the pool or a stair with your balls of the feet on the edge and hang your heels off and push down so that it stretches your arch. Great prevention and for getting rid of cramps when you have them.

If it persists, not to completely worry you, but you might want to get it checked out. I was having cramps persistently and it turned out to be plantar fascitiis and (yep, and) tarsal tunnel and I've been in physical therapy for like 3 weeks.

Stretching and water usually works though. GOOD LUCK!!!

October 17th, 2008, 08:39 AM
I was told by my doctor not to consume more than half a banana a day.

Too little or too much potassium (K) can have effects on the heart in so much as the cardiac rhythm. There is a safe range and some acceptable low and high tolerances, but if they are extreme then it can be dangerous.

October 17th, 2008, 10:54 AM
I'm not really sure what your doctor is talking about. Unless all your meals are just high-potassium foods or you have kidney problems, a banana is not going to hurt you. I eat 1-2 a day and have been for a long time. The recommended daily value of potassium is 3,500mg regardless of caloric intake. A banana only has 422mg of potassium, so I'm not sure where he's getting the idea that a banana is going to send you into some sort of ventricular fibrillation.

Of course, I'm not telling you to ignore your doctor (not that you would or should listen to some random guy on the internet anyway). Obviously, he knows your medical history and probably has a reason other than "bananas cause heart arrhythmias" because for most healthy people, it isn't true.

October 17th, 2008, 11:19 AM
There are several reasons why he suggests this to me. I am diabetic bananas, oranges, apples, throw off my sugar levels so he suggests only half of one of these is what I should consume. But he also mentioned that I should be careful with bananas because of potasium. there are other items in our diets that have hi levels of potasium also so I watch what I eat. I have no problem with my kidney but they monitor the potasium levels and I do not want problems.

October 17th, 2008, 11:22 AM
Yeah, I figured there was some reason other than "bananas have potassium". Bananas have a little more than 1/8 of the recommended daily value of potassium, so eating one is not going to do anything but help you normally.

October 17th, 2008, 11:22 AM
This is my first post here- just been lurking for a while but this is a topic I'm familiar with.

I just started swimming again after 16 years out of the pool. I swam competetively from age 7 through college so I used to have some skills. I never ran into cramp issues then, but I have them now. This is likely due to the fact that I have the same stroke but do no longer have the muscles to support it (yet!).

I frequently get hamstring, calf, and foot cramps, typicallly near the end of practice- doesn't matter if it is a kick set or not. What is starting to help is a few suggestions from the coach. Since I do 445am practices exclusively he suggested drinking a moderate, fixed quantity of water before bed, and also suggested multivitamins making sure that they contain potassium and magnesium (magnesium has not been mentioned in this thread).

I have noticed improvement since I started doing this, but I cannot tell if the improvement is due to drastic improvements in my fitness, or if it is due to the water and vitamins. I would think if you are at a fitness plateau they I'd maybe try the fluids and vitamins, or just fluids with electrolytes. I'm doing the multivitamins because my wife keeps telling me I'm deficient :)

Glad to be here.
Pete V

October 17th, 2008, 11:25 AM
Oh OK, I just saw your new post about being diabetic- maybe multivitamins would not be appropriate. Maybe something more targeted (potassium/magnesium)? But I'd definitely hydrate.

Pete V

October 17th, 2008, 05:48 PM
I will get cramps if I am not hydrated. I try to drink water all day long before a workout, then continue to load up while in the pool. If I don't get enough water in me during the day my feet will cramp up, especially with long kicking sets. I have tried stretching and rubbing, but this usually does little to help. I just keep going and force more water. Usually it will pass. I have had a calf cramp one time that nearly sent me to the bottom of the pool on a turn!

When I was a kid I never got cramps and I swam all the time. My dad had a little bar in the house and I used to sneak all of his tonic water because my parents wouldn't let us have soda. Maybe there is truth to that tonic solution after all! :wine:

October 18th, 2008, 10:16 AM
In my nutrition class we learned that if you drink nothing but water all day long, you are actually flushing your system of needed nutrients and vitamins. You are tanking your electrolytes, especially sodium and magnesium (which helps the body to absorb the nutrients faster), and potassium levels. When you exercise, you all know these are depleted. These help conduct electrical signals from the brain to the muscles. When these are low, the messages get scrambled causing cramps.

I still drink water all day, but an hour before I swim, I drink half of a Gatorade or sports drink diluted with half water to cut the sugar and salt. This has ended my leg cramps.

October 18th, 2008, 11:07 AM
I drink water most of the day, but I make sure I get sodium and potassium. I also drink Fluid after my workout, which has sodium and potassium in it to replenish the lost electrolytes. It's important not to flush that stuff out; hyponatremia can kill you.

October 18th, 2008, 11:18 AM
Can I get my energy drink needs from the swim up bar in Mexico. Which drink would be best - Margarita, Pinacolata, Coca Cola or Caroana. The Carona is cheaper then Gatoraid.

I will be there next Sunday.

October 18th, 2008, 11:26 AM
Thanks for the tip Cheryl. I always avoided the Gatorade and similar drinks because of all that sugar and sodium, but I never thought of cutting with water. It's the same thing I did with my kids apple juice. I will definitely give it a try.

July 26th, 2018, 06:21 AM
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