Cold Water Cramps

author : AMSSM
comments : 0

Member Question

Saturday morning I did a nice 90 minute run, pulled on my wetsuit as quickly as possible, and hopped right into the very chilly pond.  During my 45 minute swim, my legs kept feeling like they wanted to cramp, but never actually did.  As I was pulling my wetsuit off while standing in the water, my left calf cramped such that my foot was pointed, the muscle was rock hard, and I could not pull my foot out of point for 30 seconds to a minute.  Of course, my calf is incredibly sore, didn't really loosen up through a nearly five hour bike ride yesterday, and I'm limping.

I'm looking for suggestions for how to speed the recovery, outside of the dropped heel stretch and massage.  Any ideas? 

Answer from Rachel Brewer, MD
Member AMSSM 

Muscle soreness following a severe muscle cramp like you describe can be prolonged without adequate rest and recovery.  The mainstay of a speedy recovery after experiencing muscle soreness relating to cramping is rest and utilizing other muscle groups.  

Swimming, biking, and running all utilize the calf muscle, making it difficult to completely rest.  One suggestion would be to insert a heavier swim week into your training schedule while your calf recovers.  While swimming still puts stress on your calf with kicking and pushing off the wall, you can limit the amount of use by swimming with a pull buoy and avoiding drills with the kickboard.  Also, contributing more time to core and upper body strength during recovery can enhance your overall training while at the same time avoiding injury due to a fatigued muscle group.

In addition to rest, stretching is also vital to recovery.  For calf stretches, you can perform the dropped heel stretch like you describe.  Other options include sitting with your legs extended and pulling on your foot with a rope or elastic band, or support yourself standing with both palms against a wall and press your heel to the floor with your leg behind you. 

Massage is also helpful and a good additional tool to aid in recovery.  Simple self massage of the affected calf muscle is useful, and you can also use this as an excuse to get a complete sports massage to prevent injury and aid in recovery of other muscle groups.  Rolling your lower extremity, including your calf muscle, with a foam roller is also effective.

Ice and anti-inflammatories can also reduce soreness and speed up your recovery time.  Do this in concert with continued proper hydration and the aforementioned activities, and you should be able to return to your training schedule without difficulty.

Rachel Brewer, MD

Rating

Click on star to vote
3293 Total Views  |  33 Views last 30 days  |  9 Views last 7 days
date: August 30, 2013

Author


AMSSM

The American Medical Society for Sports Medicine (AMSSM) was formed in 1991 to fill a void that has existed in sports medicine from its earliest beginnings. The founders most recognized and expert sports medicine specialists realized that while there are several physician organizations which support sports medicine, there has not been a forum specific for primary care non-surgical sports medicine physicians.

FIND A SPORTS MEDICINE DOCTOR

Author

avatarAMSSM

The American Medical Society for Sports Medicine (AMSSM) was formed in 1991 to fill a void that has existed in sports medicine from its earliest beginnings. The founders most recognized and expert sports medicine specialists realized that while there are several physician organizations which support sports medicine, there has not been a forum specific for primary care non-surgical sports medicine physicians.

FIND A SPORTS MEDICINE DOCTOR

View all 356 articles