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Thread: Leg cramps

  1. #1
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    Leg cramps

    After I get done riding been getting real bad leg craps. Any suggestions on what to do?

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    Drink more and eat a banana.
    Quote Originally Posted by the_dude
    these are better than i was expecting, and my expectations were already rather high.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MB1 View Post
    Drink more and eat a banana.
    This. Drink lots more. If it is hot, you need a bottle (16 oz) every 20-30 minutes.

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    Most cramps are due to overuse, especially when it is not as hot out and hydration is less of an issue. So, if you've recently ramped up the duration and/or intensity of your rides, then you need to dial it back some. Also, be aware that if you're experiencing cramps due to overuse, you will be more likely to cramp for a period of time until your muscles have time to fully recover. Could be weeks, for a bad case of cramps.

    Hydration, the second leading cause, is more likely when it is hot out. As the previous posters have noted, you need more electrolytes and fluids before, during and after your ride. There are various products out there (Gatorade, Nuun tablets, and the like).

    Then, more rarely, there are medical conditions that can lead to cramping - you need to see a Dr.

    Also, some medications can make cramping more likely - see Dr. or pharmacist.

    It's hard to determine the cause of your cramps from the information you've given, therefore it is difficult to give specific advice.






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    Hydration should be a part of your daily activities. If you are riding in warm weather, you should be thinking about hydrating before, during, and after rides. Also, there are such things as fatigue cramps. If you are really pushing harder than normal, cramping could be related to your training versus your hydration.

    Just yesterday, my buddy cramped just following a really hard, hilly, mountain bike ride. He hydrates well and the only reason for his cramping was the hard pace.
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    What others have said.
    How much do you ride? Maybe it's lack of training too. I'll probably gets slammed for quoting the LiveStrong website but there is some useful info on the page:
    What Causes Cramping After Workouts? | LIVESTRONG.COM
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    Sure, it's natural to think that heat = dehydration, but in reality, dehydration happens frequently even when it's cool/overcast outside. Comfortable temperatures and conditions will often trick an athlete to hydrate less until it's too late. Additionally, cooler weather, especially in the winter time, means drier weather and evaporative losses contribute to greater dehydration.
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    The important thing is to treat it before it happens. Once the muscle cramps, whatever you drink or eat will take about 2 hours to bring any benefits. Potassium is an important chemical for avoiding cramps. Banana, coconut water, apricot and baked potato are some of the potassium rich sources.

    Sometimes it's hard to avoid it and when it does happen, the top remedies I've been hearing about are pickle juice (too bad, not many people carry it for bike rides) and beer (relaxes the muscle but it may just "finish" your race if you are in one).

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    Just to reiterate:

    Most of the replies to this thread address hydration and electrolytes. Yes, dehydration and electrolyte depletion are significant causes of cramps. However, the most frequent cause of muscle cramps is overuse/fatigue.

    People tend to focus on hydration/electrolytes to the exclusion of other causes of cramps. Certainly hydrate and replace lost electrolytes, but if you are fatiguing your muscles you can still get cramps no matter what and how much you drink or eat.





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    Quote Originally Posted by D&MsDad View Post


    Also, some medications can make cramping more likely - see Dr. or pharmacist.

    --------------
    Good mention of drugs. We often forget the number of people on statins and the common adverse effect of myalgia (muscle pain), which can be interpreted as cramping.
    Quote Originally Posted by uzziefly
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mel Erickson
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    I have used pickle juice once after I cramped up severly, it worked great, now I take it often.

    Tony

    Quote Originally Posted by bvber View Post
    The important thing is to treat it before it happens. Once the muscle cramps, whatever you drink or eat will take about 2 hours to bring any benefits. Potassium is an important chemical for avoiding cramps. Banana, coconut water, apricot and baked potato are some of the potassium rich sources.

    Sometimes it's hard to avoid it and when it does happen, the top remedies I've been hearing about are pickle juice (too bad, not many people carry it for bike rides) and beer (relaxes the muscle but it may just "finish" your race if you are in one).

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    According to my Dr, make sure you're getting enough Calcium as well staying hydrated and replenishing your electrolytes.

    I used to be very prone to calf cramping and now I stretch my calfs before I ride and sometimes during a break or two along the way. The above and stretching have taken care of the issue for me.

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    I still have problems with cramping myself. It's important to drink lots of water during your rides, especially those lasting more than two hours. Additionally, I've found it helpful to take Electrolyte tablets which can be found at your local health food stores. Electrolyte depletion from the muscles during exercise is one of the chief causes of cramping.

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    Leg cramps

    Someone told me quinine helps with cramping. Tonic water is a good source, and when mixed with a little gin and a slice of lime, makes a very agreeable post-ride beverage.

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    Midol helps. Get on the blue pill.

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    Quote Originally Posted by poff View Post
    Midol helps. Get on the blue pill.
    My high school friends and I used to take that for hangover relief... it worked pretty well actually.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bvber View Post
    Potassium is an important chemical for avoiding cramps. Banana, coconut water, apricot and baked potato are some of the potassium rich sources.
    I always have raisins with me when I ride. One of potassium-rich foods and easy to carry.

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    Leg cramps

    I'm 53, when I started riding a couple years ago cramps were horrible. I think riding by itself did help because I was out of shape. I now take Potassium tablets and the cramps have gone away.

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    LIke others said - hydration, potassium, have a choc milk or something when you get back. And too all that I'll add a massage...foam roller is good but you can do a self massage if you don't have one.
    I ride mostly in the honorable pursuit of being kissed on both cheeks at the same time by one blond and one brunette. But not redheads, they scare me.

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    Re: Leg cramps

    I get cramps and remember reading a list of just about every solution you could think of but the best one they saved for last and was more helpful than all of the other tips. Train harder. I won't get a cramp when I am riding with my daughter on an easy 10 mile ride but will more likely get a cramp when riding with a group that is faster than what I'm use to or riding longer than what I'm use to. When I put a lot of miles on my bike, work those hills and work on keeping a strong pace, I won't get cramps as much in the long run

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    I have only cramped once during riding. It was a 30 mile mtn bike race and I was pushing hard from the start. There are two long climbs with the second taking me about 55 minutes of low gear grinding at near 100% capacity. After that is long 3.5 mile descent where you stand and work the bike, but don't really pedal. Right after that is short, but steep climb. It is called cramp hill and that is due to frequency of cramping there. Even Todd Wells running 2nd in pros experienced some cramping there.

    I believe it due to fatigue combined with the cool down on descent. The long descent is hard on you since you were working the leg muscles very hard and then all of a sudden they went from pedaling to standing. Little to no cool down and when you ask them to go right back to 100% for the cramp hill climb they fight you.

    Seems to me the only way to resolve that is by better training, but that will only do so much. Probably need to learn to spin on the descent just to allow the legs to cool down.

    So I don't believe cramping is just related to hydration.
    Joe
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    Quote Originally Posted by Greg4jc View Post
    After I get done riding been getting real bad leg craps. Any suggestions on what to do?
    You need a better diet...

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    My suggestion: STOP RIDING and sell the bike. Just kidding. That's the last thing you want to do.

    A little about me: I become unemployed a few years ago. With the abundance of time, I have become a five figure a year rider. It did not come easy at first. I went from 3,000 - 5,000 mile years (employed) to over 10,000 (2012 was a 14,500 mile total). When I transitioned to the big miles in 2010, I also had frequent cramping. More than doubling my miles, but not the intake. So I will probably be reiterating a lot of the posts here (which are very good). Stay balanced! One of the key things that really worked for me is POTASSIUM - GOBS of it. Potassium is a key ingredient for muscle repair, and since I have set a certain routine, it does seem to have worked. My routine is a banana for each 25 miles I ride (not to mention protein and various snacks high in energy - I go through a lot of fig newtons). I stop and get bananas when on centuries and double-centuries as a preferred thing to potassium tablets because along with potassium, you are getting a needed calorie intake (general rule of thumb for a person of around 140 pounds is 500 - 700 calories per hour cycling). Hydration is also very important, but believe it or not, it IS possible to over-hydrate, which will cause problems.

    It takes time to find the balance point. I have not had a cramp in two years now (about 30,000 miles), and I stay balanced with the basics (no expensive vitamins - etc.).

    Other things have to be factored in. Over-all health condition, medications (if you take any), experience, and yes good old basic age. I am 52, but have ridden most of my life. Those of middle age just starting CAN work up to the miles, but it may take a bit more time than it does for the 20-somethings. I know a rider about to turn 60 who did not start until age 50, and he rides over 10,000 miles a year.

    Another thought: The bike. Does it fit you well? Or at least, do you have the seat post adjusted for a proper leg extension? You don't have to be super-scientific about the frame size, but I live and swear by how my legs are extended - especially on long duration rides. I've seen new riders with a tendancy to not have enough extension. When I am at the bottom of my stroke, I am bent at the knee about 30 degrees or a little less. Leg extension will make or break your ride (and improper leg extension not only robs you of power, but WILL cause cramps). If you are bobbing up and down in the saddle when pedling or your hips are rocking back and fourth (in that case, the seat is too high), you need to adjust your seat height.

    Most of all, DON'T over-do it. Don't expect too much too soon. Forcing too much will only tear you down. If you go gradually and stay committed, believe me, it will get easier week to week - month to month.

    I could have just said these words and left it at that:

    Nutrition, Physical condition / Experience, The Machine.

    But that would have been too vague .

    Good luck, be safe out there, and Happy Riding.
    Last edited by Oldermileeater; 05-10-2013 at 02:11 PM.
    It takes me up to 4 times longer to get there than it would driving, but I get there :) .

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cannot View Post
    I always have raisins with me when I ride. One of potassium-rich foods and easy to carry.
    It may be fine for some people but simple sugar gives me problem with cramps which most store bought raisins do contain.

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    Quote Originally Posted by turbofish View Post
    Train harder. I won't get a cramp when I am riding with my daughter on an easy 10 mile ride but will more likely get a cramp when riding with a group that is faster than what I'm use to or riding longer than what I'm use to. When I put a lot of miles on my bike, work those hills and work on keeping a strong pace, I won't get cramps as much in the long run
    When internal chemicals are in balance, legs will tire out before cramping. Athletes in top condition can still cramp if that balance is upset.

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