You are in the middle of a vigorous and exciting swim session when you suddenly feel as if a sharp knife has pierced through your calf muscle. The pain is so intense that you are left with no other way but to retreat to the wall and get out of the waters hoping for some relief soon. This is muscle cramp and people who swim, experience it for not just once but several times throughout their lives. In fact, muscle cramps are common among all of us but for the swimmers, it is a problem that affects their potential. Imagine you are in the middle of a swim meet or competition and you get affected by a terrible muscle cramp, the loss that it results in is immense and irreparable. The worst part about this symptom is that there is no tried and tested medicine that can help you do away with muscle cramps permanently. Even the swim experts at Cypress swim club suggest natural ways to reduce the possibility of muscle cramps in swimmers and particularly while swimming. So, here take a look at some of the prominent causes, effects and recommendations related to this particular problem.
Causes of Muscle Cramps in Swimmers
Fatigue – It is one major reason behind the occurrence of muscle cramps. Muscles that work too hard are prone to cramping. That is why; you tend to get a muscle cramp whenever you swim a little longer. Now, this of course does not mean that you will not advance but it is essential to train yourself well depending on your physical conditioning and only then, set a more difficult swim goal.
Electrolyte Imbalances – Electrolyte imbalances are caused by overexertion, inadequate fluid supply to the body and excessive heat. Too much alcohol, too, leads to cramping. Drinking loads of water and fluids before and after workouts and swimming in climate-controlled indoor swimming pools are some of the prominent ways of avoiding dehydration that leads to cramps.
Ageing – Muscle cramps become more frequent as we grow in age. Even when you are a swimmer, there is no denying that age takes away much of your strength and the elasticity of your muscles. Experts recommend warming up with a short swim or a light walk or jog prior to setting yourself for a vigorous one.
Medication and Genetics Related Cramps – Taking too many medicines especially those for high blood pressure, lipid or cholesterol, diabetes and oral contraception also leads to cramps. Above all, some people are genetically exposed to conditions such as cramping, which further worsen the overall situation for them.
Some Quick Recommendations
While precautions can be taken over the course of time, it is difficult to manage the sudden excruciating pain when the cramping starts. So, here is a list of things to do just as you are swimming and the muscle cramp hits you badly:
- Experts suggest that you should stop immediately and get to the land or at the least, get hold of a floating device. With all your attention going to the cramp and the pain it is causing, you tend to lose balance and that can be dangerous.
- Gently stretch and massage the cramped part in a straight motion. Keep the arm or leg stretched until the cramp absolutely vanishes.
- Cramping either tightens up your muscle or makes it sore and tender. Apply light heat if it is tightened and ice if it is tender.
- Hydrate and rehydrate yourself continually to avoid cramps and also get instant relief from them. It is not without reason that swimmers are advised to take in a lot of fluids in the form of both water and health drinks. Since swimming compels you to lose a lot of energy, keeping yourself hydrated is one of the most effective ways of avoiding cramps as well as staying away from a lot of other problems.
In case the problem of muscle cramps become more serious and too frequent, make it a point to seek medical advice and do as directed. Cramps might also rise from internal injuries so it is best to be assured that the cause is a common and simple one before you start treating yourself as per the given tips.