Scuba diving and cramps shouldn't go together. But, unfortunately, as many of us know - they sometimes do. And it is never fun. Today we have a guest post by Dr. Brent Wells addressing this issue. So if you ever had that leg cramp up while diving, or if you never want to feel those leg cramps while diving, this post is for you. There are some simple things we can do to help prevent experiencing this issue during our dives. Hope you enjoy the article. Here's to cramp free dives!
It’s happened to every scuba diver at one time or another. There you are, watching manta rays glide across the ocean floor when suddenly, you are hit with a powerful leg or foot cramp. The more you try to shake it off, the worse it gets. What can you do?
Regardless of how much experience you have or what kind of shape you are in, leg and foot cramps can hit at any time. This is especially true when it comes to cramps in the calves.
In addition to being painful, cramps can cause you to fall behind or get left behind by your diving buddies, make you forget to monitor your air, and even cause you to stop paying attention to how deep you are diving.
The good news is that there are some steps you can take both before and after a dive to help keep these pain-filled episodes short and infrequent.
While most divers experience cramps in their calves, you can also get them in your thighs and your feet. Some episodes are short, others are excruciating and go on for 3-5 minutes!
There are multiple reasons why our legs cramp, and sometimes the reason is unknown.
One thought is that certain activities, such as diving and swimming, involve the intense use of multiple muscle groups, including the feet, calves, quads, hamstrings, and buttocks. This “overuse” or prolonged use of these muscles can cause a lack of circulation, which can cause cramps.
One known factor is that when the body is low on certain minerals, the muscles do not receive proper nerve signals, or the lack of these nutrients causes the muscles to act erratically.
When we are diving and swimming, we point our feet to effectively use our swim fins. Unfortunately, pointing our feet is what can bring on a cramp in the calves or the toes.
This cramping when pointing our toes is so common it is known as divers’ feet.
The best tips for preventing these cramps include:
Regular stretching exercises can also go a long way towards preventing cramps. You should do stretching at least 3-4 times per week and before you go on a dive to prevent leg or foot pain and cramps.
Good stretches for the legs, buttocks, and feet include:
Whether you have chronic low back pain, intermittent back pain, or if your sciatica acts up after a dive, one thing for certain is that you want that pain to stop right now!
Back pain can occur for many reasons. Everything from herniated discs to arthritis, back sprains to compressed (pinched) nerves.
Finding the source of your back pain would be ideal, but some things to consider include:
If back pain becomes worse or if it is unrelenting, it’s time to seek professional care from your trusted chiropractor.
If sciatica is a problem, the following tips from a can get your sciatic nerve to stop hurting:
Be aware that you may not even have sciatica, but a condition that feels similarly called piriformis syndrome. Your chiropractor can tell the difference and can guide you towards healing whichever problem you are experiencing.
Taking good care of yourself by eating a healthy diet and keeping muscles flexible through regular stretching can go a long way towards years of enjoyable diving experiences.
About Dr. Brent Wells:
Dr. Brent Wells is a licensed chiropractor who founded Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab in 1998. His clinic is currently leading 10,000 Alaskans to more active and pain-free lifestyles without drugs or invasive surgeries. It brings a progressive and highly innovative approach to chiropractic care, physical rehab therapy and chiropractic massage.
I hope you enjoyed this guest post on scuba diving and cramps. And most importantly, that it will help you avoid those cramps in the first place! Here's wishing you all cramp free dives!
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