Q+A: How can I avoid toe cramps when swimming?

triathlon questions

Q. When I swim, I often get cramp in my toes. Are there ways I can avoid this?

A. The circulation to the muscles of our feet is generally not as good as it is to other muscles, so they are more susceptible to fatigue and dehydration and this is when cramp in the toes usually develops.

Of course, the fitter you are the less fatigued you become, but you can also work on strengthening specific muscles. One easy way to do this is to stand barefoot on a wobble disc or wobble board five times a week for intervals of one minute at a time. Try to do this three times a day.

Also ensure you are hydrated – even though you are swimming you will be perspiring, so keep sipping water throughout your swim and make sure you have eaten a balanced meal two hours before you start swimming. It is also useful to have an isotonic drink 30 minutes before the swim.

Anne Marie O’Connor

Anne-Marie O’Connor is a leading sports podiatrist, providing podiatry and gait analysis to many athletes and sports teams. She uses video technology to analyse running patterns and prescribes orthotics if needed. She teaches lower-limb biomechanics and aspects of podiatry on the Sports and Orthopaedic Medicine course for doctors at the Royal London Hospital. She is also one of BUPA’s health experts (www.bupa.co.uk).

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