Muscle Cramps In Swimmers

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The  Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro have just completed.  It was a great celebration. 16 days of multiple sports and exciting events. During the games many athletes developed several injuries, some which were devastating.

I have been swimming most of life and over the years I developed some injuries. A common injury is cramps of the legs and feet. Muscle cramps occurs when our legs are overused and also in combination of dehydration and loss of electrolytes. We also may develop tightness of the muscles from the previous swim.

It can take 24 hours for the body to regain fluid balance after dehydration. When we exercise on land we feel our sweat but when we swim we really do not feel the sweat. If we are dehydrated after the swim, the muscle in the body might be compromised from having a loss of the minerals and this why they develop the cramps and the pain associated with them.

There are multiple soft tissue structures that  are been used by our body during swimming. The plantar fascia which is the fibrous tissue in the bottom of the foot and covering the muscles of the bottom of the foot is working together with the calf muscles which are located in the back if the leg and also the Posterior tibial tendon which which is also located in the back of the leg.  

There are 4 styles of swimming : butterfly, back stroke, breast stroke and free style.  The swimmer uses the feet and legs during swimming.
During swimming, the swimmer uses this structures to kick and push and assist in direction. Overusing them may cause the cramps in bottom of the feet and back of the legs.

Treatment:

Hydration:
Like any other sports, fluids replenishment is very crucial during training and also during competition. Make sure you are hydrated and drink adequate amounts of fluids. For example electrolyte containing sports drinks. Also drink water without the electrolytes.  We loose water as we spend energy.
Drink before and after swimming.

Diet:
Many swimmers are on a special diets. A good source of recommendations are from the Team USA nutrition web site.

Exercises:
There are several stretching exercises to assist in reduction of the cramps. Calf muscle stretches and also Plantar Fascia stretches.

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Guest Monday, 18 December 2017

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