Cramps can be hugely debilitating for spearfishers. Imagine coming up from a long dive only to have one of your calves cramp, resulting in severe pain that can last anywhere from a few seconds to several minutes or longer. This wouldn't be good! Especially when we rely largely on our legs to propel us safely to the surface. This is also another important reason to always dive with a buddy, and within your limits. If you are pushing yourself on a dive, and get a cramp when you go to leave the bottom, you could naturally panic and become in danger straight away. You should be able to dive the depths that you are in comfortably, and prepare yourself for anything that may go wrong.
There are some easy things that you can do before and during a spearfishing trip, to help prevent suffering from cramps. Many fitness experts think cramps are related to poor flexibility, muscle fatigue or doing a new activity. Other factors include exercising in extreme heat, dehydration and electrolyte depletion.
Sipping water (or an electrolyte-filled sports drink) is vital throughout a spearfishing trip.
Electrolytes are nutrients such as sodium or salt, potassium, magnesium and calcium, which are sweated out during exercise. When levels of these nutrients - important for everything from muscle movement to blood pressure - drop, you suffer more muscle spasms.
Don't drink alcohol heavily
Heavy alcohol consumption can hinder the absorption of magnesium, so women should stick to two to three units per day fand men to three to four units as a maximum.
Increase magnesium levels
To boost magnesium levels, try including more pulses, tofu, nuts, potatoes and oatmeal in your diet.
The recommended daily intake is 270mg for women and 300mg for men, which equates to 66g Brazil nuts or 110g pine nuts. Tap water can be a good source of magnesium if you live in a hardwater area. In any case, drink two and-a-half litres of fluid a day to ensure good hydration.
Increase calcium levels
Lack of calcium can also aggravate cramps. The recommended intake for adults is 700mg-1000mg a day.
This is roughly 200ml of milk, a small pot of yoghurt or a matchbox-sized piece of cheese. Nondairy calcium sources include leafy green vegetables, small-boned fish such as sardines, orange juice, cereals and nuts.
Increase potassium levels
To boost your potassium intake, eat bananas, pulses, garlic and onions, and fruit and vegetables in general. Make sure your diet is rich in vitamin E - this includes vegetable oils, nuts, seeds, avocados and sweet potatoes.
We hope this helps to prevent any cramps from ruining your next dive trip!