After a sharp freestyle turn, quite often us swimmers suffer with muscle spasms and pain in the sole of the foot. Even after a good stretch it still feels impossible to continue. This isn’t just relevant for pool swimmers, but often open water swimmers suffer too. Here we take a look at the reasons why we get foot cramp when swimming and have some handy suggestions to help prevent it. Why do we get cramp?
The main muscles which are used in the foot when you are in that excellent streamlined position which you have been practising are the plantar fascia. These muscles cramp up and cause us pain for a number of different reasons:
How can it be prevented?
- You become tired
- Your muscles are over-worked
- You are dehydrated
- You have an electrolyte deficiency
The first thing we suggest is ensuring you stay hydrated. This doesn’t mean just drinking normal water, it means using drinks that contain electrolytes so you replace the components that are lost when you sweat. Common drinks that contain electrolytes are Lucozade sports drinks. One tip a swimming coach once suggested to me, was to add a pinch of salt to your drink. This doesn’t sound too pleasant I know! But salts are also lost a lot when you sweat and you really can’t taste a small pinch. Eat the right things before and after you train, an hour or two either side of your training session. These meals should be made up of foods which are high in protein and carbohydrates. Stretching is a very important part of maintaining your muscle flexibility so should be included in warm ups, cool downs and also any land based training you do. We often forget how important it is that our muscles stay flexible as we often put our body into positions that no other athletes do.