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.


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.

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Make sure your hydration and electrolytes are sufficient before any race. Are you calves strong ? Do you train them ?

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  • I am meticulous about hydration and electrolytes (which of course doesn't mean that I always get them right :-)). "Strong" is a relative term, but I am a triathlete and I do specifically train the calves as part of my strength programme. – NPE Jan 7 '15 at 16:58
  • It sounds like you are doing everything right. I would continue to work on your flexibility in the surrounding muscles. Look into getting some myofacial work done. – Michael Pullam Jan 7 '15 at 17:35
  • Given that my prevention methods are not 100% reliable, I am focusing on strategies for dealing with cramps when they do strike. – NPE Jan 7 '15 at 18:26

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