General Cycling Discussion - Need help avoiding calf cramps
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I'm not sure what has been happening but lately my left calf has been cramping really bad. It started Sunday before last. It began about halfway thru the ride. It went away after the ride this time. I rode that Tuesday and Wednsday and I was fine. On Thursday I rode and it began cramping about halfway thru again. This time it did not quit cramping until Sunday morning. I did a ride Monday evening and it started again. It cramped my entire ride yesterday and it is still cramping.
I am stretching well before I ride. I am eating bananas and drinking plenty of water. What else do you recomend? This is becoming annoying.
05-14-03, 06:41 AM
Low calcium can also cause cramping. Many of my institution's athletes notice a great improvement in their cramping with supplementaion of calcium as well as potassium and magnesium (the latter can also affect your calcium homeostasis). However, selective cramping in one extremity worries me unless you selectively use that calf more than you right on the pulling upstroke of your pedalling. Chronic compartment syndrome of the calf can cause isolated cramping as well as anamoulous coompression of an artery due to scarring, overhypertrophy of some of the muscles in the popliteal region(behind the knee) etc. If the calcium does not work and some modifications in your pedalling technique does not help, by all means see a physician...ideally someone in sports medicine or someone with sports medicine interest.
I would say electrolytes are a bit off.
Bananas are a good start but I'm thinking you need
a bit more Potassium than you get with them.
Try drinking an electrolyte replacement drink
on your rides (like Gatorade, Accelerade etc.) If this
doesn't help you might want to look into
something like Endurolytes by Hammer products
E-Caps (http://www.e-caps.com/index.cfm) you can
get more info at the above site.
05-14-03, 10:20 AM
Give Tums a try.
05-14-03, 10:31 AM
Stetch...helps every time...I even stop mid ride to stretch and give some comfort to them :)
Thanks for the info everyone!
05-14-03, 11:58 AM
Tums has calcium, but I've had a nurse tell me it's not good to take Tums for reasons other than occasional stomach upset because they can mess with the natural balance of acids and stuff in your stomach (yeah, that was the technical explanation). If you go the calcium route and you like chocolate, you could try Viactive supplements.
05-14-03, 12:21 PM
Based on recent, extended, conflicting, and eventually terminal dealings with the local medical establishment, I no longer trust those a$$holes.
Stretching the calves on the nose of a stair or curb at slow increasing pressure is a good way to help. Avoid bouncing.
Another thing I notice that can get my calves knotted, is trying to break into a sprint too quickly when not fully warmed up. By slowly, but steadily, increasing my speed helps. Even lightning needs time to build ;).
A good electrolyte fluid intake prior to, and during, the ride is smart.
05-14-03, 01:25 PM
, but I've had a nurse tell me it's not good to take Tums for reasons other than occasional stomach upset because they can mess with the natural balance of acids and stuff in your stomach (yeah, that was the technical explanation).
I have great respect for nurses but I don't think she realizes Tums has been studied in many, many clinical trials along with OsCal and has no detrimental effect. It has Na Hco3, a weak alkaline base, but that is neutralized instantly in the stomach with such a ph of 2-3.
In medicine, things may seem contradictory because sometimes the right answer depends on the question asked.
Sounds like the nurse was making an intelligent supposition but that's what it was, a supposition since clinical trials have shown the bicarbonate doses in Tums is negligable.
05-14-03, 01:43 PM
Interesting. Yes, she's a very knowledgable nurse, but perhaps she was speaking more from a precautionary standpoint than a factual one. Still, why eat something chalky when you could have something chocolatey? :-D
05-14-03, 02:05 PM
True, chocolate is better than chalk.
And it wa doctors screwing up, nothing like watching someone being misdiagnosed until it is to late to do anything about it.
You can also try Tonic Water which contains Quainine.
There was a medicine called Legatrim on the market. My dad got cramps for years and his dr suggested trying legatrim. It fixed his cramps almost as soon as he took it. Active ingredient was listed as Quinine.
I read the label, and said 'quainine = tonic water', and so have been quaffing tonic water whenever I feel a cramp. That works for me.
Yes, when you exercise you gotta take the electolytes & lots of liquids - gatorade & such, but I find that if you start getting cramps even after taking these, or if you get a crmap and you want to get over it very quickly, tonic water works.
Sounds wierd, I know, but don't knock it until you try it.
05-14-03, 08:10 PM
Tenpas is right. It's not wierd.
Quinine in pill form is a common prescription drug for cramps. It's used by docs when all else fails. ( It's also the oldest remedy around for treating malaria!!) It used to be over the counter until the medical community saw many cases of a severe form of hemolytic anemia resulting in death if a person (usually of African American ethnicity) with glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency ingested it. A doctor can get sued for prescribing quinine in African Americans who may have this deficiency. In addition, quinine can cause heart arrythmias in those with underlying heart problems and take certain heart medicines.
The amount in tonic water is hardly enough to make a difference in these subset of people yet can still help tremendously with cramps.
05-14-03, 09:12 PM
It also tastes better with gin.
Cool, will try the tonic water. But if that doesn't work maybe tequilla will, if not it will at least make me forget about the cramps.
BTW, the cramp is still here!!!!!!! :(
05-15-03, 07:58 AM
I won't comment on the nutritional aspect as I'm not a doctor nor even want to play one. But I might comment on riding style.
How are you riding? Hard and fast or relaxed and slow? How is your bike adjusted?
If you ride hard and fast, then maybe you should try to relax. Some suggested stretching exercises, but your bike ride could actually be such an exercise. Spin fast (turn pedals at 70-90 rpm) but not too fast and, most importantly, don't put pressure on the pedals. Keep it relaxed -- so relaxed you can talk or sing while riding. That way, you will regain flexibility in your muscles. Once you ride without pain, then -- and only then -- slowly increase the pain.
P.S., if you can't ride slowly, go with a child, a collegue, a spouse who rarely cycles, etc.
Too low or too high a saddle creates inefficiencies and may cause muscle sores. Likewise, shoes with too soft soles cause the foot to cramp around the pedal, and sometimes these cramps "climb up".
Well, I have been riding harder than usual later trying to get ready for these races. My seat position is perfect. For me anyway. I can't stand to move it, I have tried. As for the soles I am wearing Sidi Dominator 3's for my mtb and Sidi Genius 3's for my road bike. I don't think the sole's get much stiffer.
I am going to try to soak my legs in saltwater tonight and then take an easy ride tomorrow. Hopefully that will help some.
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