Have you ever suffered from foot cramps while swimming? Even though you may think that it isn’t something to worry about, cramps can put your life at risk, especially if you’re swimming in the sea, a lake, or even a swimming pool.
At first, tt may seem alright when you experience foot cramps while in a swimming pool, but facing the same situation when you’re swimming in open waters can prove outright dangerous. The fact is, that seasoned swimmers do not usually suffer from this condition. The reason being, regular swimmers realize the significance of eating healthy, staying fit, and warming-up before they plunge into the water.
Similar to all other forms of exercise, swimming too requires that the body be allowed to warm-up and acclimatize to the temperature of the water. However, these two crucial activities are often neglected by most of us and instead, we start swimming almost immediately.
How to Prevent Foot Cramps While Swimming
Lack of Body Warm-up
Our bodies require proper warming-up before every exercise. This is the first rule of every exercise or sports activity. Without which the body finds it hard to flex its muscle completely. This increases the chances of sprains, cramps, muscle tears, and tenderness. It also slows us down substantially as the muscles are not able to reach their complete potential without warming up. Since exercising causes oxygenated blood to reach the muscles at a faster rate, as compared to normal body functions, it is imperative that you stretch for at least 10 minutes before getting into the water.
Acclimatizing to Water Temperature
The body needs to acclimatize to the water temperature, and only then will the muscles be able to function freely without catching a chill. Therefore, stay still in the water for about 10-15 minutes, and let your body get used to the change in temperature. Thereafter, begin swimming slowly and increase your pace gradually.
Swimming is a grueling exercise, we often do not realize it because of the buoyancy involved. What we further fail to notice is that like all other exercises, swimming causes us to sweat. Our bodies tend to lose a lot of water while swimming and this often results in dehydration. Therefore, it is advisable to take small breaks in between laps rehydrate yourself at regular intervals. Do not drink a lot of water immediately before swimming, instead do so at least half an hour before your swimming session.
Another prominent cause for recurring cramps is the deficiency of electrolytes, which are essential minerals that the body requires in order to withstand grueling physical exercises. Make it a point to add calcium supplements into your daily diet. Drinking milk and eating fruits rich in calcium will prove beneficial. Similarly, potassium deficiency in the system will also increase the chances of getting cramps. The other minerals that may need restoring are magnesium and sodium. Consult your doctor before taking any health supplements.
If you haven’t been swimming for a while, then you may want to go slow for the first few weeks and gradually build your pace. Having not exercised for a long time, you risk injuring or tearing your muscles if you exert too much pressure while swimming. No amount of warm-up will help achieve your expected speed in one day. The only way you can do that is by increasing your pace over several days. Start slow, and gradually increase your swimming speed every other day. This will help your muscles become more flexible, therefore they will be able to handle more body weight and manage the propelling movements of the calf muscles, while swimming.
It is often seen that people who suffer from type-2 diabetes or heart diseases, experience foot cramps while swimming because of the insufficient blood supply to the heart as well as muscles. It is also found that a health condition known as atherosclerosis causes similar cramps when the blood vessels become narrow, which naturally restricts the circulation of blood to the muscles. People with high blood pressure and kidney problems also suffer from cramps while swimming and doing other exercises.
It is believed that pointing the cramped foot towards the chin and consequently rotating it helps reduce cramps. That being said, your objective must be to prevent the recurrence of foot cramps while swimming instead of figuring out how to reduce its symptoms once it has already started.