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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2008
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    Causes of PAINFUL leg cramps?

    Anyone that bodyboards knows how painful a leg cramp is, and how they often happen at the most inconvenient times. Even if I sit and stretch for several minutes I will sometimes still get massive cramps in my calf that ruin a whole session. The cramp will stay for several minutes, relax and then come back just as strong as soon as i try moving my leg again.


    Today I had one of the most horrifying experiences of my life. I go to school in hawaii so i spend a lot of time on the north shore, anyway, i was out at Waimea bay today catching the shore break for a few hours until the swell literally doubled in size at the bay. The 8-10 ft waves turned into 15ft and even some topping out at 20ft breaking way out into the bay (not hawaiian scale). As a set came through everyone started paddling out and of course I got hit with a leg cramp that stopped me cold. I had to relate to using only my arms and I hardly got under the waves of the set, which turned out to be more than a set and just consistent swell. I got stuck in the rising swell unable to move my leg for a good half hour until finally i could catch one and get to shore.


    Having said this I think that there is more to play than just stretching, hydration and fitness that goes into causes of cramps, I was very well hydrated, I am in excellent fitness, and I stretched for quite a while before i went out. Ive been surfing north shore for several months now. I think that sudden fear and mental stress can cause your body and muscles to act in strange ways. It is almost as if my body is reacting to me traveling towards the wave. It seems as if my brain knows there is stress, then realizes the approaching wave is causing it, so as a response to me traveling towards the wave my leg muscles lock up in an attempt to stop me from moving towards the danger. I believe that is a somewhat decent explanation and idea.

    Anybody have similar experiences, or any thoughts to add? The same used to happen to me on big days at home in NJ occasionally. I have a hard time relaxing completely in large surf, but it also helps me stay on top of my game and helps me stay focused.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
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    Wilmington
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    I remember that I used to always get crams in my hip abductors like when I'm straddling my board, and those would really hurt, and a few times I've had a calf cramp... not fun. But ever since I've started stretching, I've only gotten a cramp ONCE. This had been like 6 months. But you gotta make sure that you stretch right. The best time to stretch is AFTER doing an activity of any sort. Before you do the activity, you should actually warm up with jumping jacks, jogging, etc. And you have to be consistent with your stretching because when you stretch, you're actually telling your body that it can actually stretch a little farther than it's supposed to. If you stay consistent, your ligament will remember how far it can stretch (from stretching) and you'll be more flexible. There's always a limit, but everyone has a weak spot in their flexibility (me = legs). So at least three times a week is what I try to do stretching-wise.

    Another factor could be coldness. Were you a little chilly in the water? It doesn't have to be much, but just a little and your body will come up with ways to make it warmer, most of the time its contracting muscles... and that makes them tighter.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
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    in the grace of the most holy FSM
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    i'm gonna go w/ terra firma here...stretching has a HUGE effect on how much range of motion you get out of your limbs & muscles.
    also, if you were sweating while in the water, you might have become potassium deficient. eat a banana before paddling out. i personally have only gotten calf cramps when the water's been on the chilly side (below 50). i never get the things in the summer time.
    it also could have been caused by fatigue...where you out for long time before the cramp occurred? the cramp might've been your leg's way of saying, "nope, i can't do it. too tired." once you let it rest for a bit, it was good to go for at least one more wave & got you out of the water.

    my personal opinion of your pseudo-psychological explanation is, to put it mildly, that your theory is utter crap. it defies the logic imposed by the fight/flight response. in the situation you were in, you had only 1 option: to fight. flight was not available to you. your "fight" response when caught inside is to move out toward the threatening wave & hope to either get over it before it begins to break, or get under it & dodge the full power of the beast. this is why you see a lot of guys who are out in conditions beyond their skill sitting way, way outside. by sitting outside, they remove themselves from the danger of all but the biggest sets & also enable themselves to have to paddle less to avoid any sneaker sets that come thru. that your muscles would cramp up in an attempt to avoid confronting this beast of a wave would suggest that your sense of self-preservation is non-existent.

    but seriously: stretch more & eat some bananas.

  4. #4
    Stretching and hydrartion are good but potassium is best. Bananas are full of it. I usually eat one before a session. Now the only time my calf cramps up is if I've been out for 3+ hrs and my entire body is exhausted

  5. #5
    1) Strengthen and stretch your muscles regularly
    2) wear a wetsuit in cold water
    3) keep hydrated


    do all these and you should be able to avoid most cramps

  6. #6
    stretching will def help, just stretch longer and look up some leg stretches.
    I used to get cramps but then i realized that i was kicking by moving mainly my feet and that messed me up. Try to use more of your legs to kick, thats what i did and i havent cramped since.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2008
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    belmar
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    Good feedback guys, thanks. It was after i was out in the water for a couple hours so fatigue could have played a role as well, now i just have a bigger cramp to worry about, the tsunami from chile that is waking everyone up to alarms and evacuation haha.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Monmouth County
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    1,184
    Get some cramps in my calves once in awhile.Almost feels like the Gout.Sucks man especially when theres a nice set coming in.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
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    CAPE MAY ,NJ
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    Sometime if I dont strech enough before I paddle out my neck and my lower back will hurt after a cpl hours. Eating a Bannana is good before s session cause it give you a huge energy boot. Usually after a session I drink almost a whole gallon of water and I eat a couple blue berry muffins from Wawa. After that my batteries are recharged

  10. #10
    Without a doubt. Leg cramps really kill your time out there and can basically cripple you. The pointing of your feet make them spasm so what i try to do is calf raises which push your toes up. Stand on a curb or ledge with your toes before you head out and raise your body up and down, really stretching your calves. thats about the best thing i can do and it seems to ease the pain but never rids me of them completely