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Old 08-20-2012
mbruse mbruse is offline
Junior Member
Join Date: Aug 2011
Posts: 29
Default Open Water Swim Cramps

Yesterday, I had one of my best swims. Still very much a beginner at this, but I was able to do some bilateral breathing and went about 10 minutes strong without stopping to rest. However, I did start to feel some cramps in my upper right pectoralis towards the end and then on the way back I did some back stroke and felt cramping in my thighs.

Any thoughts why this happened?

This was an organized OW Swim and there were lifeguards so I was able to be monitored (not rescued).
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Old 08-20-2012
CoachBillL CoachBillL is offline
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 62
Default dealing with cramps

Cramps happen, in my experience, when you're swimming further than you're used to, and/or if you're swimming in colder water than usual. They can also happen if you're getting tired and stressing muscles in new ways (if you're not really good at backstroke, you're probably overkicking.). In open water you have to be able to deal with them (although if you've trained well enough, they are much less likely to happen): roll to "sweet spot" on your back, minimize effort, stay calm, massage the cramp. Usually works. But the great thing is to do long enough practices that you have experienced how fatigue affects your stroke, and have focus points ready to deal with that: marionette arms, gentle catch, nice long streamline -- whatever you know works.
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Old 08-20-2012
jpwkeeper jpwkeeper is offline
Join Date: Aug 2010
Posts: 39

I've been a cramper all of my life. No matter how many electrolytes I take in, I still cramp.

However, I've recently started taking Magnesium supplements. Note: NOT Magnesium Oxide, which is nearly useless as you only absorb a tiny bit of it (like 4 percent). It's hard to find, but I finally found one that ends in -ATE (like Lactate, Citrate, etc) at GNC (it actually had 3 of them, it was called Super Magnesium which sounds cheesy). Apparently it's getting harder to find Magnesium in food due to soil depletion or something. Not that I'm an overly healthy eater anyway.

I just took an unusually long and difficult bike ride yesterday, and no cramps either during or after the ride (they usually happen after I go to bed, around 2:00am). That ride was a recipe for guaranteed cramps.

Not saying it's a silver bullet, but it is turning out very well for me. Next test is my daughter's birthday at the roller rink; skating is another recipe for guaranteed cramps.
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Old 08-21-2012
mbruse mbruse is offline
Junior Member
Join Date: Aug 2011
Posts: 29
Default Thanks

Thanks for the tips. It was a hot day, the water felt right, and I did swim farther and longer than I ever had (which I am happy about).

I'll have to check out the Magnesium tip. I thought Chocolate was a good source of Magnesium. Anyways, lately my thighs have been cramping no matter what I do.
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