I sometimes get cramps in my ankles when swimming freestyle.
What are some good strategies for dealing with them during an open water race?
Preventative measures would also be of interest.
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Proper hydration is key to preventing cramps.
If you have ruled hydration out as a cause, try rolling the arches of your feet on a lacrosse ball (you can get them cheap at the sporting goods store in sets of 3 or ask to get some old ones from a club team). Stand on one leg then step the arch of the other leg onto the lacrosse ball. Apply as much pressure as you feel comfortable with. A little bit of pain is OK but this should not send you off crying. Then gently begin moving your arch in circles over the ball. This may be a bit painful at first and you may experience a grit-like sensation the first few times you do this. Roll each side out for about 3 minutes once a day.
If you have access to a foam roller ($20 at Target), roll your calves out as well per this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s6aiK6C1HXs. Roll for 10-15 passes per leg per day and as needed as part of your warm up/cool down on workout days.