"The 33"-Road Bike Racing - Muscles twitching after a ride
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OK, this thread is similar to Dutchy's.
After a strenuous ride, my calf muscles continue to twitch. Often for several hours after the ride. They don't cramp up but continually and painlessly twitch.
I suspect it is my muscles trying to rid themselves of lactic acid. Does anyone else experience these symptoms or know how to prevent it from occuring? My family is rather fascinated by this phenomenon and my wife says that it looks disgusting, like something is crawling around under the skin! :D
Funny you should mention muscle twitches. I was just thinking about them the other day after I did a run...
I attended a seminar a couple of months ago given by a guy who was a researcher at a physiology lab for sports medicine at a university out west. He was very informative. I asked him about muscle twitches, and he gave a thorough analysis about muscle twitches. We were laughing because I told him sometimes I get muscle twitches in my arm- and I'll just push down on them, and nothing seemed to work. It reminded me of jiggling raw chicken. He liked my analogy.
Twitches can be caused by a number of different factors- very heavy exercise, muscle overuse, heat exhaustion, dehydration, and electrolyte imbalances. More serious causes of muscle twitches can be caused by circulation problems, nerve problems, or some autoimmune problems. Sometimes msucle twitches can be caused by pregnancy too, but I assume you aren't pregnant, so no need to elaborate here (or IS there.... hmmmm... let me know.... ;) )
Anyway, muscle twitches are caused when a group of muscles in the same location are continuously stimulated by a motor neuron. The muscle fibers are being overloaded, but they will eventually adapt, and the twitching ceases. On the cellular level, there are proteins called actin and myosin that interact with the help of calcium and ATP. Calcium binds to another protein, and when that happens, this calcium/protein complex releases from the actin and myosin muscle proteins, and the myosin releases itself from the actin (muscle relaxation). ATP is needed in order to facilitate this. When ATP is lacking in the body (i.e. in the case of strenuous workout sessions), the calcium cannot release from the actin/myosin site, so the muscle remains in a continuous contracting state.
What you can do to try and prevent this from happening is try GENTLE stretching while the muscle is contracting. You can also try to walk around during the contracting also. This sometimes helps. During your exercise, drink LOTS of fluids- plenty of water and sports drinks. Do a short warm up (like 5 minutes) before exercise, then stretch the muscle before you start your workout, and when you finish working out, make sure you stretch the muscle too. Keep your muscles warm- especially if you're riding in cold weather. Cold weather will just cause the muscle to constrict and can impede blood flow to the muscles. You can also increase some of the vitamins in your diet- vitamin E, calcium, potassium, magnesium and zinc.
If you do all this, and the muscle twitches still persist, there may be a more serious underlying problem. See your doctor, and ask for a serum electrolytes blood test, a CAT scan of the spine, and an angiography of the legs. They may conduct other tests for autoimmune disorders too.
That last part is the serious part, but it probably will not be your problem. I bet you just do some strenuous exercise and the second to last paragraph will probably apply to you.
Keep us updated after a few weeks of trying this.
I re-read Dutchy's post, and although the symptoms are similar, I really think Dutchy simply needs to drink more water. Gatorade will help him for keeping the electrolyte balance, but water is also important to keep the muscles hydrated, provide oxygen to the muscles, etc...
Thanks for the very informative post! I think that it is most likely caused by overuse and exertion. I tend to ride pretty hard for extended periods of time (3+ hrs). When I was building base miles over the winter, I didn't notice the problem quite so much. Now that I'm riding a bit harder, I've noticed it again.
I'll check out the vitamin supplements, I may be a little low on a couple of the ones you mentioned.
Peace --- SteveE
P.S. At 50+ yrs. young and two teenage daughters, we've sworn off getting pregnant again. :D
Glad I could help. Just let us know how the vitamins and minerals supplementing works for you. Also the increase in water and sports drinks too... and stretching. Try it all and get us an update in about a month.
Glad you decided to let up in your 50+ years. I met a guy in my building who was 50+ and his 50+ wife had part of her cerevix removed. The doctors swore they wouldn't be able to conceive. Today, in his early 60s, he's the proud father of a beautiful 6 year old child. She started first grade back in September....
Never say never.... ;)
Gatorade will help him for keeping the electrolyte balance, but water is also important to keep the muscles hydrated, provide oxygen to the muscles, etc...
I would like to know if it is good or bad to only drink sports drinks during maximum efforts, or should I have one bottle of sports drink and one bottle of water. I am reading from your quote, that each drink has different affects. Maybe I have misunderstood.
I have already started to drink more, by keeping an eye on my watch and taking a good gulp every 5 minutes.
I think in your case, from what you described, it may be a good idea for you to combine your sports drink with your water drink- wait... let me rephrase that- you should be drinking both water and a sports drink. What I tended to do from time to time is get a big water bottle and add in some gatorade for the electrolyte. However, it tastes a bit distasteful- I'd rather just keep them separate if I can.
Why don't you give it a try- every few minutes, alternate between water and gatorade gulps and see what happens?
Also, if you are getting a quick lactic acid buildup, I would suggest a training program. It's not too late to work on building up your lactic acid tolerance levels. If you have a heart rate monitor, and you've been training all this winter, it's time to do more workouts around your anaerobic threshold- I suggest somewhere about an hour or two of interval rides with heart rate ranges from 75- 85%. Try to spend the majority of your time in your interval workout at 80- 85% efforts with no lower than 75% recovery. It's time to push and build up your lactic acid tolerance. Together, with a good plan for your water and electrolyte replenishing plan, I bet you'll be able to work through your problem.
Let us know how it goes. Try it for a month and see what happens.
MIneral defiency. Most likely magnessium and potassium.
Get a real good mineral replacement drink. I mean a good one sold at health food stores or real bike shops. Gatorade simply doesn't cut it.
So you guys reckon powerade and gatorade are no good? Any recommendations? I can't stomach powerbars either.
on the roadbike I carry 1 bottle of water and 1 of powerade, and the mtb I have water (2l) in my camelback and sometimes carry a bottle of powerade. Although today I rode 100 km and had to refill my waterbottle twice.
I'm not saying powerade and gatorade are no good- they ARE good for replacing electrolyte imbalances. In addition, I recommended some vitamin and mineral supplements to SteveE that I learned were good for working with muscle twitching problems.
If you did you 100 km ride and drank your powerade and water and didn't have problems, you're fine... stick with what you know until something happens that makes you look at your routine.
I'm not sure about mineral replacement drinks- I don't have a lot of experience with them, but I do believe that typically, vitamins and minerals that are deficient in the body (that are not normally made by the body) need to be ingested over time- simply drinking a mineral replacement drink during your ride will not increase your deficiency to the point where you will be ok. Electrolytes are so simple to replace- negatively or positively charged electrolytes easily bind to receptors and correct the problem. Vitamin and mineral deficiencies are a little more complex and can lead to long term (or short term depending on what's missing from the diet) health problems. Gatorade will certainly NOT cut it if you are deficient in vitamins or minerals- because it's NOT a replacement drink for vitamins and minerals- it's primarily there for a quick energy replacement drink- provides simple sugars and electrolytes needed for energy.
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