Causes of leg cramps while swimming

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Leg cramps occur if the muscle was overexerted or the individual is dehydrated. Once a cramp occurs, the affected muscle abruptly and involuntary contracts.

Cramping that occurs while swimming is quite common. This is linked to the incorrect action of plantar flexing in the foot. Take note that plantar flexing occurs if all the leg muscles form a rigid line from the calf up to the toes. Remember that this is considered as the ideal position for the foot since it maximizes the water contacted which allows increased speed. The issue is that holding this position is the main cause of leg cramps.

Generally, it is recommended to stop activity that triggered the cramping.

Why leg cramps occur?

There are 3 main causes of cramping while swimming – electrolyte loss, condition and unnecessary tension. The usual cause why leg cramps occur while swimming is unnecessary tension. While swimming, plantar flexing is an involuntary action that is unusual. The body attempts to correct this position by triggering cramping.


A leg cramp that occurs while swimming can be managed. Generally, it is recommended to stop activity that triggered the cramping. The individual should stretch and massage the affected muscle right away.

When swimming, stopping might not be an option since if the water is deep, drowning is possible. The ideal course of action is to move out of the water as quickly as possible without causing the muscle to re-cramp.

Once out of the water, the individual can stretch and massage the affected site. This should be followed by a warm compress and an ice pack later. In case the muscle pain continues, an anti-inflammatory drug can be given to lessen the pain.

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