Why does swimming give you a charley horse?

Photo on 2013-02-05 at 20.51 #2

So, yesterday I was in the pool. I just finished a workout — a speed over endurance set — and I was having some fun with some drills using my flippers when BAM!

OW

OW

OW

OW

OH MY GOD THE PAIN.

I got the worst charley horse I’ve ever had mid kick. It was so bad that I had to hang on to the lane and paddle back to the wall with my arms. I reached down on my left calf and I could both feel and see the knot where the charley horse was.

This wasn’t the first time I had gotten one. A few times, usually around the taper part of marathon training, I would get them when I was sleeping.

It’s like this intense, knotted pain in my calf that feels like someone stuck a knife in and started twisting it around. It’s abrupt (and would wake me up out of a deep sleep). And then after a few seconds, it passes.

It had happened once before to me in the pool. And sometimes when I am pushing off the wall in a flip turn, it feels like it might be coming on.

The weird thing about the spasm yesterday was that it still feels … weird … today. I went on a short run tonight and it felt a little tender.

According to this helpful forum, these are caused by:

  • dehydration (though I don’t think that was the culprit yesterday)
  • potassium deficiency (possibly, but I’m sure I eat > 100% my daily value most days)
  • overuse (also possible, but how can I be using my calf more now that I’m swimming? I never got these running.)
  • not warming up slowly (but it was the end of my workout?)
  • the need to stretch more (ding ding ding I think we might have a winner.)

When I was running more often I was so good about staying on my yoga practice. Not having run as much, I’ve fallen off the wagon.

Still — ow! I wonder why these seem so common in swimming? Just look how often swimming is mentioned in relation to charley horses in a yahoo answers query:

Charley Horses and swimming

Pattie Reaves

About Pattie Reaves

By day, I'm the User Experience and Audience Manager for the Bangor Daily News. By night, I'm a soon-to-be first-time mom and renegade fitness blogger at After the Couch. I live in Brewer with my husband, Tony, and our two pugs, Georgia and Scoop.