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How To Deal With Calf Cramps

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How to Deal With and Limit the Risk of Calf and Leg Cramps for Bodysurfers

As a bodysurfer, if you have ever had a leg or calf cramp, you will know why we have posted this. Calf cramps can be one of the most agonizing pains to experience.

We have all had first-hand experience of the pain. On more than one occasion, I have fallen victim to the initial tugging feeling.  Then, your leg stiffens up and you are rendered useless. Getting a calf cramp on land is one thing, but to get a calf cramp in the water, and especially while handplaning or bodysurfing in the ocean, not only hurts like hell, but it can also be dangerous!


Getting cramps suck; and they are preventable

One particular experience I can remember was when I was travel surfing and bodysurfing through Morocco a few years back.  After finally seeing a good break after days of travel, I bolted out into the water. 15 minutes later, just as I finished the 10-minute paddle to the killer point, it hit me! There was not a lot I could do apart from float around and try, in vain, to stretch my leg out.  On land, this is a good idea.  In water not so much. I ended up getting a set on the head and found myself washed over the rocks for my trouble. The thing is, it could have been a lot worse, but I was lucky.

Unfortunately, there is no specific way to effectively deal with cramps in the water.  However, this is the perfect case of "prevention is definitely better than cure". We as bodysurfers in particular should learn to take care of our bodies before getting into the water. Bodysurfers and swimmers are the most prone to being struck by leg or calf cramps in the water. This is due to the physical excursion on the legs and calves. Also, wearing fins puts the risk much higher due to the added strain the bodysurfing equipment places on your calf muscles. While I am on the subject of bodysurfing equipment and bodysurfing fins, it is really important to choose the right fins for your particular feet. Read our article on choosing the right bodysurfing fins to find fins that fit you best and reduce the strain on your calf muscles.


The Definition Of A Muscle Cramp

"Technically, a muscle or calf cramp occurs when your muscle tightens and shortens, causing a sudden, severe pain."

what is the main cause of A Muscle Cramp

Muscular tissue cramping is primarily the result of overexertion and/or dehydration. Whenever you do not possess adequate fluids in your system, it can cause an electrolyte imbalance that triggers your muscle tissue to cramp up.


Electrolytes and what foods to get them from 

Electrolytes are nutrients and minerals which include sodium, magnesium, calcium and together with potassium, these nutrients and minerals assist the body cells in normal cellular functions . Any time you have fluctuations and imbalances in the levels of these vital minerals, you will start to have problems in the basic operation of bodily functions.  The effects are brought out in the form muscle spasms and cramps.  The crucial electrolytes influencing muscle tissue cramping are potassium, sodium, not to mention calcium.

sodium rich foods


Sodium

  • seaweed
  • pickles
  • pretzels
  • a teaspoon of Himalayan salt will solve most mineral deficiencies

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Potassium

  • young coconut water
  • bananas are a great fruit for potasium
  • sweet potato
  • Kale

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Calcium

  • Milk: (the obvious)
  • Almonds: for the lactose intolerant
  • apricots
  • oranges

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Magnesium Chloride

  • salmon
  • mixed nuts
  • soy
  • whole wheat products

When Are You Most Likely To Get Muscle Cramps?


Likely causes of cramps


relieve for calf cramps


Medical Treatment of Calf Cramps

Diet and exercise is the safest and best way to treat just about any ailment but in some cases medical help is needed. Quinine sulfate generally is the prescribed medication of preference for cramping.  If the discomfort is moderate or self limiting, topical ointment and/or oral non-prescription analgesics might be suitable.  These particular medications can be suggested by a health care provider or simply a pharmacist.

vitamin c

Boost your intake of vitamins and minerals, especially Vitamin C, as it will help stop your muscle tissue from cramping. It is strongly recommended to consume timed-release Vitamin C supplements two times per day. You should be taking 1,000 milligrams in the morning, and additionally 1,000 milligrams in the evening. Keep in mind that in some cases, people might experience diarrhea in the event that you take over and above 1,200 milligrams of Vitamin C daily.


how to make cramps go away while they are happening

First, relax the tightened area.

  1. When the muscle cramp first starts to occur, it is best to gently and slowly massage the region that has crampe, whether or not it's a crick in your actual calf from overexertion, or simply a spasm in your foot.
  2. Stretch out the muscle tissue gradually and carefully, provided that you don't sense discomfort.

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Relieve for calf cramps specific

As this is the most likely form of cramping a bodysurfer will experience, we will run through the best form to combat the onset of a cramp. For calf cramping in particular, you can perform a wall stretch out by following the steps below:

  1. Position yourself around two to three feet away from the wall
  2. Put knees straight together with your heels on the ground
  3. Lean into the wall, assisting yourself with your hands. You may sense the stretching sensation of your calf muscle tissues.
  4. Keep in that position for sixty seconds.
  5. Do it again 3 times, or until your calf cramp subsides.

Prevention is always better than cure the most important tip: Make sure to drink plenty of fluids! before and after bodysurfing

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exercise that help prevent future calf cramps

In the event that your calf muscle tissue is prone to frequent cramping, this may mean they are weakened! There are specific exercises to strengthen the muscle group that you are having problems with. One of the best exercises for calf and thigh cramps is the toe raise. 

  1. Just simply rise up on your toes.
  2. Maintain for five seconds.
  3. Return heels to the floor. 
  4. Do it again 15 to 20 times, 2 or 3 times per day .

To improve the benefits of the exercise, you might want to attempt holding dumbbells at shoulder-level.


Alternative calf cramp relieve techniques


Heating

If you are suffering from cramps on a regular basis, it is strongly recommended to use a consistent application of heat to the affected muscle tissue. Heat the muscle tissue with either a moist warm towel, or with a cream like Deep Heat for ten to fifteen minutes 5 or perhaps 6 times a day. Continue to do this until the pain diminishes.

cooling

An ice pack can be both a pain reliever and an anti-inflammatory. Place an ice pack on the area for a maximum of 10 minutes, or until there region is a cheerful red.  This means that blood cells have arrived to heat up the cramped muscle tissue. In the event that an ice pack is unpleasant, attempt heat.  


Massage and Rubbing

First, relax the tightened area.

Massaging the calf, arch , and toes or affected area with baby oil for 10 minutes can work wonders for the pain of a cramp.

  1. Use medium to hard pressure to really get into the deeper tissue.
  2. Use a back-and-forth motion across the length of the muscle .
  3. Use a side-to-side motion over the affected muscle tissue with the palms of your hands.

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Counter the Contraction

Calf Cramps

  • It is possible to softly loosen up cramped muscle tissue by guiding it through the regular range of movement. For a cramp in your calf, it is strongly recommended to grip your calf with one hand whilst stretching your toes and foot in the direction of your other hand.

Foot Cramps 

  • Similar guidelines apply for a cramp in your feet or foot.  Believe it or not, I have had cramps in both feet at the same time.  To relieve foot cramping, simply position your hand in the arch of your foot, rather than on your calf.  Keep the stretch out until you finally feel the pain diminishing.

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Keep Well Hydrated

  • Making sure you are always well hydrated can go a long way in helping prevent cramps. Make sure to top off your reservoirs before and throughout any physical exercises, particularly if you find yourself working hard   in warm weather conditions, you must drink 8 to 12 ounces of liquid before you begin doing exercises.  Follow through with 4 to 8 ounces of liquid each and every 30 to 45 minutes when you are doing a workout.  This will keep you well hydrated and hopefully free of cramps.

Author: Steven Watts