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Commuting Bicycle commuting is easier than you think, before you know it, you'll be hooked. Learn the tips, hints, equipment, safety requirements for safely riding your bike to work.

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Old 08-22-05, 09:24 AM   #1
Old Fallopian
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My commute hurts me

First post here so forgive me for diving straight in. I've been riding a 20 mile round trip commute for the past year and love it. I live in London and have become very annoyed whenever I have to take public transport. It takes me half an hour to blaze through the traffic and saves me serious money.

The only issue is this; when I've not cycled for three days (if a take a holiday or whatever) I begin to get crippling cramps in my thighs (always the quads). Even the mildest activity brings them on, driving a car or walking 100 yards. The pain is enough to make me stop whatever I'm doing and lie down until they subside.

The really puzzling issue is that it only ever happens when I stop for 72 hours or more and they subside when I cycle though I get the odd small cramp for the first few miles. The doctor is stumped and is of the opinion that I should just keep cycling to ward it off.

Much as I like my bike I want to be able to take a few days off without being crippled.

Any ideas would be gratefully accepted,

Cheers,

OF
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Old 08-22-05, 09:31 AM   #2
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Are you hydrated? Do you sweat a lot? You may be low on electrolytes or fluids. But it's really odd that it happens after you stop for a few days. I'm wondering if you drink a lot when you ride but when you are not riding you don't drink as much cause your used to getting really thirsty from riding. How is your diet? Do you drink any sports drinks (Gatorade etc.)?
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Old 08-22-05, 09:42 AM   #3
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Cheers BTC!! Much appreciated..

I drink loads of water during the day (but not when I'm on the bike) other than that I drink a lot of tea. Nuts and fruit for breakfast, sushi or a sandwich for lunch and a reasonably well balanced meal in the evening. A few beers a week but nothing major.

I never get any cramps in the upper body (I always get them in the chest and side of the neck first when I'm hyponatraemic) but I do sweat a lot. Really like a waterfall with the recent weather over here.

I can try and drink away the cramps (and I've used Dioralyte, basically the stuff you mixup after you've had diarrhoea) but it does no good at all. The doctor's given me some Valium but I'd rather not use it.....
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Old 08-22-05, 10:11 AM   #4
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Potassium is always good for cramps - try adding a Banana or two per day to your diet?
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Old 08-22-05, 10:40 AM   #5
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Stretching/yoga?
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Old 08-23-05, 02:06 AM   #6
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Thanks all. I eat at least one banana per day and a recent blood test revealed nothing out of the ordinary in my electrolyte levels.

Suspect that I need to do some stretching though, I've become very tight in the thigh area.
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Old 08-23-05, 02:32 AM   #7
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Bananas don't have enough potassium often, try that "lite" salt, it's partially potassium chloride as well as sodium chloride, that's one idea. You can get potassium pills too - I had a great-aunt whose life was a good vs evil play, featuring sodium as Evil and potassium as Good, and she was always trying to get enough potassium, eating a lot of bananas. Finally she got another doc who just put her on potassium pills.
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Old 08-23-05, 05:44 AM   #8
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Quote from www.banana.com
"Because of their impressive potassium content, bananas are highly recommended by doctors for patients whose potassium is low. One large banana, about 9 inches in length, packs 602 mg of potassium and 4 grams of fiber."


Bananas sometimes bother my stomach so I eat figs or dates.
A handfull of either provides the same amount of potassium and double the fiber.
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Old 08-23-05, 07:41 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Old Fallopian
. . .

Any ideas would be gratefully accepted,

Cheers,

OF

Try upping your calcium intake. You may need more.
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Old 08-23-05, 08:29 AM   #10
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Here's a long-shot for you:

I had a similar problem. I work in a very large building with a very large parking lot. I work in the corner of the building furthest away from the parking lot, so sometimes I walk almost a 1/4 mile to get to my lab. I walk a lot during the day, and never have problems.

Before I started to ride a bike, I tried walking in the evenings after work, and I would get killer calf cramps after a couple of hundred meters. I couldn't make any sense of until I looked at my shoes one day. The shoes I wear to work (hiking boots actually) have a "tallish" heel, and my walking shoes were pretty much flat.

To make a long story short. My ham-strings had tighted up and just standing in flat shoes was putting strain on my calves (sp?). I Stopped wearing my boots all the time and the problem went away.

Maybe some light stretching is in order?
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Old 08-23-05, 09:04 AM   #11
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When I got back to cycling after a long layoff, my legs would feel ok when I rode, but would ache after I skipped a day or two. Eventually, this subsided, and I assumed that perhaps my legs were just weak from not riding and that I felt the aches and pains more after a couple of days.

I don't know if this is a sound theory medically, but let me ask you - is it possible that your legs just have to get stronger?
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Old 08-23-05, 09:29 AM   #12
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I echo the potassium sentiments and would encourage you to actually calculate the amount of potassium you are getting. I was surprised to learn that although I eat a well balanced meals (including bananas!) I don't get as much potassium as I should so I take a vitamin & mineral supplement to ensure I'm getting enough.
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