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Thread: calf cramps

  1. #1
    Very Active Member swimlong's Avatar
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    calf cramps

    In the last year I have been getting incredible calf cramps or spasms about 1000 - 1500 m into my workouts. My typical workout is 2500m, 3x per week. Usually the cramps are instantaneous, for example when I push off the wall. I also notice i get them with fly more than any other stroke. Sometimes they are so bad I have to get out of the pool, and I can't walk. To help the situation, I have been stretching, both during the day and after my swim warmup; drinking water during practice; and eating a banana before practice.

    I am a pretty fit person; I have been swimming most of my life
    Anyone else had this issue? Any advice you could give would be really appreciated.

  2. #2
    Active Member tigerchik's Avatar
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    Re: calf cramps

    I get calf cramps if I have been doing a lot of running or cycling pre-swim. I think they are a combination of fatigue + tight calves. I don't know what to tell you other than keep stretching. Do you have a foam roller? Those can be helpful for loosening muscles.

  3. #3
    Very Active Member ourswimmer's Avatar
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    Re: calf cramps

    I started to have problems with calf cramps late in workouts last year after making some dietary changes and increasing my training load. Based on the recommendation in a book I read about athletic nutrition, I tried taking three Slow-Mag tablets a day for 20 days and I stopped having the problem. They recommend that brand specifically because it is a different magnesium salt from what is in most magnesium supplements, and they believe its absorption rate is better. I make sure not to get over-hydrated, or under-electrolyted, before workouts, too.

  4. #4
    Age Grouper in Training jaadams1's Avatar
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    Re: calf cramps

    Quote Originally Posted by swimlong View Post
    In the last year I have been getting incredible calf cramps or spasms about 1000 - 1500 m into my workouts. My typical workout is 2500m, 3x per week. Usually the cramps are instantaneous, for example when I push off the wall. I also notice i get them with fly more than any other stroke. Sometimes they are so bad I have to get out of the pool, and I can't walk. To help the situation, I have been stretching, both during the day and after my swim warmup; drinking water during practice; and eating a banana before practice.

    I am a pretty fit person; I have been swimming most of my life
    Anyone else had this issue? Any advice you could give would be really appreciated.
    Hydration.

    When our age group team started the season, this is one of the things my coach stressed to the group (along with listening), but hydration all day long, not only while you're swimming or working out. Should be drinking lots of water during the day. I started the season with severe cramps too, they'd usually occur after pushing off a wall around 30 minutes to and hour into the practice as well, but I haven't had issues for many many months.
    Note: I hydrate with soda (water is the first ingredient).
    "Don't be upset by the results you didn't get with the work you didn't do." - K.A. Benthin

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  5. #5
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    Re: calf cramps

    I get calf and arch cramps every workout, and it's not a dietery or stretching issue so much. I had back surgery (L5/S1) in 2005 and 2009 due to sciatica. I'm pretty sure the nerve damage from disc herniation is still there and may always be there. If you have back pain your cramps may be due to nerve compression in your spine. Surgery is usually not needed and a cortesone shot can often work very well, but of course, consult your doctor. And I'm not one.

    Here's a dermatone chart to illustrate what spinal disc effects what muscle...
    http://www.drstevenjdolgoff.com/peri...art_page_8.htm

  6. #6
    Very Active Member bamueller's Avatar
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    Re: calf cramps

    I struggle with cramps off and on during workouts. I notice I get them after working out (legs) sometime before swimming (whether it's days, hours, etc), or over-exerting without proper nutrition.

    http://www.sportsmd.com/SportsMD_Articles/id/369.aspx

    This sites states there are two possible causes of muscle cramping. The first category of exercise associated muscle cramps is related to skeletal muscle overload and fatigue. The second type of cramping is caused byexcessive sweat losses associated with a decreased level of electrolytes (specifically sodium).

    I found that link to be informative. Good luck.

  7. #7
    Very Active Member knelson's Avatar
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    Re: calf cramps

    Quote Originally Posted by bamueller View Post
    The second type of cramping is caused byexcessive sweat losses associated with a decreased level of electrolytes (specifically sodium).
    Which would suggest just drinking water during a workout may not be enough. Personally, I like to drink diluted sports drink during workouts. I don't feel like I need the full strength stuff, but I do think the electrolyte replacement is a good reason to drink something more than water.

  8. #8
    Very Active Member ourswimmer's Avatar
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    Re: calf cramps

    Quote Originally Posted by knelson View Post
    Which would suggest just drinking water during a workout may not be enough. Personally, I like to drink diluted sports drink during workouts. I don't feel like I need the full strength stuff, but I do think the electrolyte replacement is a good reason to drink something more than water.
    I agree. For shorter workouts I drink plain water if I drink anything. For longer sessions I like non-sugary electrolyte drinks (e.g., Hammer Fizz, nuun).

  9. #9
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    Re: calf cramps

    If it is not a chemical problem (hydration or bananas), a nerve problem or a multi sport problem (tired from running, etc.), your calves are cramping because of stain. Get them in better shape to eliminate the problem.

  10. #10
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    Re: calf cramps

    I always say bananas, spinach and water are the best cure for cramping. I swam in college, and they use to give us Alka Seltzer for cramping too. I also think electrolyte drinks are best bet when training. You sweat way more than you realize in the water. You have to replace the loss. Water is great throughout the day, but workout time it's good to have Gatorade or Powerade. I also consume a lot of Advocare Rehydrate gel. Hope you stop the cramping!

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