SCUBAPRO Sunday – Cramps

When you are doing a long dive there is a good chance that you are going to get a cramp. Cramping can happen for several reasons. Being dehydrated, diving for a couple of weeks straight or even you haven’t dove in a while. Most of the time you try and straightening out your leg that has the cramp while only kicking with your good leg, you try and grab your fin and stretch it out while keeping up with your swim buddy. Cramping occurs in the calves, hamstring, quadriceps, thighs and the feet—mainly due to the finning action that causes muscle fatigue and triggers muscle spasm. But mostly in diving, you get a cramp in your upper and lower calf from pointing your toes while you are diving.

So, what can you do to stop this from happening?

• Replace old equipment if it doesn’t fit you properly, it can cause feet related cramps. So that favorite pair of fins you stole when you were in training should be retired, hang them on your wall in your garage.

• Check the foot pockets of your fins to make sure your feet are comfortable enough and that there is sufficient room for them to move a bit. So, make sure your fins fit all the boots/footwear you are going to use, you might use a large in the summer but in the winter when you are wearing thicker boots or a dry suit you might need bigger fins. That also goes for shoes, like Vans or LALO’s that you might wear when doing a dive where you will need to have shoes on for climbing or good traction. You might have a size 10 for summer and a 12 for winter, so you can add insulation.

• Make sure you are using the right type of fin for the kick you use. Make sure the stiffness and surface area of your fins’ blades are what you need. Fins are designed for different types of kicks; Jet fins are great for a power kick or a frog kick, Seawing Nova’s are made to be great for propulsions with not as much effort as saying a jet fin. Also, look at the stiffness. There are two types of Seawing Nova. The Seawing Nova and the Seawing Nova Gorillas. The Gorillas are a stiffer fin, and they are great for a working diver or someone in good shape. So, pick the right one for the job you are doing and the environment you will be in.


• Your footwear should not be too tight as this will restrict circulation and bone movement in your foot. If you are diving in the winter and you add a dive sock to your booties to keep you warm, what you are doing is restricting your circulation, and that will make you cold and cause cramps. If you want to add layers have different sizes booties.

• The strap should not bite into the back of your heels too tightly, pushing on your Achilles tendon. This can happen if your footwear is too big and you are shoving your foot in and barely getting your strap around you heal or you are afraid you will lose your fin, so you pull the strap really tight. Something that could help with this is a self- adjusting fin, like a bungee strap or a steel spring. This will help keep the right pressure on your heel.  


Cramping generally affects people that have taken a long break from finning. I say finning and not diving because you don’t have to dive to fin. So, like all of your other skills, shooting, moving, and communicating. You need to practice finning, so you stay in finning shape. You should try and swim a couple of times a week and do it with fins on. When you are at the gym, don’t just do arms. Do functional workouts that include a lot of exercises for your calves and strengthening the specific muscle groups that cramp when diving. Also try and include foot flexing exercises, as one of the other reasons for cramping is your feet are not used to being pointed for long periods of time, as I mentioned above. I know a lot of groups are getting back into the water but are still living in the desert. So, when you have the chance try and get back into the water or into the gym.  

4 Responses to “SCUBAPRO Sunday – Cramps”

  1. Mike says:

    Is the diver wearing an underwater camo wetsuit? Something like this?


    Does that pattern work underwater?

  2. Amer-Rican says:

    A primary cause of cramping is insufficient electrolytes- potassium, magnesium, calcium, and chloride (most people get lots of sodium).

    Some people sweat out more of their electrolytes than others- a sure sign is white powdery residue from sweat, left on helmet chinstraps, collars, etc.

    One can buy electrolyte supplements in tablets or capsules, “SportLegs”, and Hammer Nutrition’s “Endurolytes” are two I know of.

    For people who cramp, they are a very effective cure.