Leg Cramps while Snorkeling
Leg cramp swimming

If you haven’t been snorkeling for a while, it’s very possible that you may experience a leg cramp while you’re on a snorkel, even if you are someone who is in particularly good shape and walks, runs, or bicycles regularly. When we snorkel we use our legs—particularly our calf muscles—in a different way than when we do on land. If we push ourselves a bit too hard at the beginning of a snorkeling safari before our leg muscles have had a chance to acclimate to this new movement, the chances of us experiencing a leg cramp are not unlikely.

What does a Leg Cramp Feel Like

In the mildest cases, your calf muscle might just feel a bit tight but you’re still fully able to use them as you normally would while snorkeling. However, as someone who’s spent the better part of ten years snorkeling professionally, the most common leg cramp will feel as if your calf muscle has seized up with your foot sort of frozen in the flexed position. It can be quite uncomfortable and will more than likely affect your ability to keep snorkeling. However, as dramatic as this all sounds, there’s a very quick and easy in-water solution to leg cramps like these so you can continue on your snorkel as if nothing happened at all.

snorkeler in white shirt freediving over reef and blue water

How to Release a Leg Cramp

The easiest way to release a leg cramp while you’re still in the water is to simply turn around and grab the tip of your fin with one hand and gently pull it towards your body. Keep the knee slightly bent at first but slowly start to extend your leg and allow your foot to become ‘released’ from that flexed position. At the same time, gently grab and massage your calf muscle with your other hand. Your calf muscle will no doubt feel hard and engaged when your first start massaging it, but as your foot starts to pivot away from the flexed position you’ll feel that muscle start to release and soften. Any discomfort you were feeling should be gone by this point and you’ll be able to carry on snorkeling.

How to Prevent a Leg Cramp

  1. Stay well hydrated during the snorkeling safaris. Most snorkeling destinations, particularly the ones we visit during our snorkeling safaris, are in tropical climates. You may need to step up your hydration game a bit to compensate for the increased level of heat, humidity, and daily snorkeling activities.
  2. Stretch your legs before and after the snorkeling sessions, particularly in the first few days while your leg muscles adjust to this new finning motion.
  3. Take it slow and don’t overexert yourself while your snorkeling.
  4. If you are repeatedly getting legs craps it might be a good idea to buy a new pair of fins. If you are using short fins, try a slightly longer pair, or if your fins are very stiff try a more flexible model.
  5. Eat healthy and nutrient-rich foods, especially when doing a lot of snorkeling. Things like papaya, bananas, greek yogurt, sweet potatoes, and avocados are all rich in nutrients and have been said to help alleviate muscles cramping up.

About Author

Alex Lindbloom
Alex is a Snorkel Venture and Dive Safari Asia guide as well as the video and photo pros for both companies. Alex is also a field editor for a popular underwater photography magazine. Prior to joining Snorkel Venture in 2018 Alex lived and worked all over the world working as an underwater cameraman, with five of those years living/working on a yacht in Indonesia. Alex's images and videos have garnered many international awards such as Underwater Photographer of the Year and can be seen on NatGeo, Discovery Channel, the UN Building, and various magazines.