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  1. #1
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    Ridin & Cramping Legs.

    I've been back to riding for about year & half, I'm 50 yrs old (2000 miles) had to take time off for Prostate surgery but back in the saddle for 5 wks (400 miles) Im eating lite & have lost 40 lbs in 14 months. The problem I have last yr & this year is after about 30+ miles of hard riding my calf muscles are cramping & will stay sore for a couple of days after the ride. I'm in shape & can ride much farther just have the calf pain ?? Is it what I'm eating ? Or what I'm not eating ? Or ???
    If you want a lighter bike ? Eat more salads !!!!

  2. #2
    Galveston County Texas 10 Wheels's Avatar
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    Pushing your legs to hard at the start, slow down for a while.
    [SIZE=1][B]What I like about Texas[/B]
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  3. #3
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    Stretch more thoroughly.

  4. #4
    Life is good RonH's Avatar
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    Spin, don't mash -- and stay hydrated before, during and after the ride.
    My bikes: 2001 Litespeed Tuscany---2015 Cannondale Supersix EVO carbon

    I thought of that while riding my bicycle -- Albert Einstein

  5. #5
    Senior Member John_V's Avatar
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    At 64, I've been there with the prostate cancer and I also have chronic leukemia which adds yet another joy of complications to my life. I ride fairly hard on a daily basis, 6 days a week (used to be 7). I used to get leg cramps almost every night when I was asleep and repositioned myself to the point that it would wake me up. I talked with my doctor and started taking potassium supplements (99 mg) on a daily basis and I've been doing that for around 4 months and have not had a leg cramp since; while riding or when sleeping. I get the supplements at Sam's Club for dirt cheap and although they aren't as tasty as a banana a day, they are much cheaper.

    I also keep myself well hydrated when on rides and on long rides (50 + miles), I take a third water bottle with a mixture of water and Hammer Perpeteum. Perpeteum is a used for quick recovery after rides and during rides helps keep lactic acid from forming, which is a main reason for leg cramps while riding. My second water bottle is a water and electrolyte mixture similar to Gator Aid. I seldom use the Perpeteum or electrolytes on rides less then 40 miles unless it is very hot or I am going to do a fast group ride with very few stops.
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  6. #6
    Senior Member gcottay's Avatar
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    For me, perhaps for you, the keys to happy legs on a long ride are
    some gentle morning stretches
    • at least three to five miles of gentle warm up
    • starting well hydrated
    • getting plenty of water
    • adding electrolytes if it's hot


    Some years ago I noticed that when I started a ride with the firm idea of keeping it slow and easy I eventually ended up riding faster, thus the adoption of a long warm up. That habit also makes group rides more fun in that I begin by hanging with the mellow slowish crowd.
    George
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  7. #7
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    Ridinmurray, I have exactly the same problem and my solution so far is as follows. Do the usual things such as hydrate appropriately; take electrolyte supplements, and move your cleats as far back as possible. If no cleats, put the pedal spindle near the arch or your foot. Then check to see if your saddle might not be a bit too high. Finally, pay close attention to everything about your position on the bike.
    My last ride yesterday was 60 miles and the calves were seriously threatening to cramp but didn't quite. Over time, they are getting very much stronger and able to deal with the load imposed by cycling.

  8. #8
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    Bike is very comfortable, I've worked on that for hours. But feeling as if they're going to cramp, right on the edge is way it feels. I get off the bike & stretch or walk a few minutes & it's gone for a few miles. I bought some bananas today to try that. I stay very hydrated & eat carbs at the stops but, not much Gatorade. Where can I get electrolytes to add to water ? Or will the Gatorade powder work.
    If you want a lighter bike ? Eat more salads !!!!

  9. #9
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    As someone who has had leg cramps since about 12 years old, there is no known "cure" for muscle cramping. Lots of things can help but I really think it is genetic. Just your muscles overriding your brain's instructions to keep working hard. In addition to getting the right minerals to your muscles it also has to have something to do with the blood getting enough oxygen to the muscles to keep working at a high rate.

    Along with inventing a rain jacket that really does breath and allows you to stay dry when raining finding a cure for cramping issues will make you a gazillionaire.

  10. #10
    Senior Member downtube42's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by oilman_15106 View Post
    As someone who has had leg cramps since about 12 years old, there is no known "cure" for muscle cramping. Lots of things can help but I really think it is genetic. Just your muscles overriding your brain's instructions to keep working hard. In addition to getting the right minerals to your muscles it also has to have something to do with the blood getting enough oxygen to the muscles to keep working at a high rate.

    Along with inventing a rain jacket that really does breath and allows you to stay dry when raining finding a cure for cramping issues will make you a gazillionaire.
    +1

    This make sense to me: http://www.ultracycling.com/training/cramping.html
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    Granted that cramping is generally the result of overuse, need to slow down or do a bit less, or dehydration, need to drink more and be more aware of pee color, one still must check out other possibilities. One of which is that something was left over from the surgery. Another is that you are having symptoms from a lumbar problem that is just now picking a time to make itself known. Worth the time and money to check each out.
    It is better to smell the flowers than taste the roots.

  12. #12
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    Here is info on electrolytes. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electrolyte Stretching is good and it is thought quinine is a preventative. Thus, gin and tonic can be thought of as a recovery drink

  13. #13
    Senior Member rumrunn6's Avatar
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    salt your water
    take a small potassium supplement
    take a minuscule magnesium supplement
    hydrate before and after riding
    eat a decent meal of real food 1 hr before training
    consume suitable simple carbs just prior to and during the ride
    if it's a long rise lasting more than an hour you'll need to nutrify during the ride too

    research research research
    cycling is like baseball ~ it doesn't take much to make it interesting

  14. #14
    Icantre Member stonefree's Avatar
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    Seems like I've always had chronic muscle cramping for as long as I can remember. It's only recently that I discovered that Gatorade is the only thing that solves it immediately and along with lots of bottled water. Some kind of mineral imbalance. I've even had half body cramps at times of major exertion and one time while bike riding. Tried everything,salt tabs, bananas, magnesium etc. nothing worked but Gatorade and of course Quinine (Tonic water) which is usually not as available as Gatorade. Bananas actually made it worse.
    "If we don't change direction, we will end up exactly where we are headed."

  15. #15
    Senior Member big john's Avatar
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    For me cramping happens when I haven't been riding enough for the distance I'm trying. I'm a notorious slacker and when I try a century when not prepared I get leg cramps. While riding I find that if I back off and spin easy for a while I can usually get past the cramps.
    If I've been riding and climbing a lot I never get cramps and I have a bad diet, rarely stretch, never take supplements or do anything else to prevent cramps.

    So for me it's lots of saddle time and I agree that there must be a genetic factor.

  16. #16
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    Muscle strength helps a bit but Electrolytes are the answer for most.

    Many years ago and I had a friend that cramped bad on any ride over 60 miles. He was on-or his wife was on- a healthy food kick and used virtually no salt in her food or cooking. Then one ride and he arrived at my house without bottles for a ride so I got a couple of mine out and filled them up. One fresh water and one with Isostar. He liked the taste of Isostar but only had one bottle of it and in the day we drained and refilled the bottles twice. After the ride he remarked no cramps. Next ride and he only had water and cramped again so I gave him my bottle with isostar. 20 minutes later and although not gone- the cramp was a lot less. After that he used Isostar in all his drink bottles and never had another cramp.

    But another "Aid" to stop cramping is Marmite Sarnies. The salt content of the Marmite has the same effect as Electrolytes- but just a warning- You either hate or love the taste of Marmite. About the same as the wrong additive in your water bottle.
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    Try taking a couple of Tums before you ride and then every hour or 20-25 miles after that. They have sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium. I have seen people go from full blown not able to stand leg cramps to riding with no problems after taking a couple and drinking some water. I have tried Rolaids, but it did not have the same effect.
    Jerry

  18. #18
    Senior Member ericm979's Avatar
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    30 miles isn't long enough to run low on electrolytes. You're cramping because you are using your calf muscles too much. It could be that you are climbing seated in too high a gear, or your foot position on the pedal is not right for you. For that, consider moving your cleats back. Don't change by more than 5mm at a time. I draw an outline around the cleat before I move it so I can go back to the old position.

  19. #19
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    Stretch calves while riding as the possibility of cramping seems likely. Stand on the pedals,which also relieves the butt and then drop the heels stretching the calves. Do this several time in a row, holding the stretch for, say 10 seconds, and repeat as necessary, maybe every 20 minutes.

  20. #20
    Senior Member volosong's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by turkey9186 View Post
    Try taking a couple of Tums before you ride and then every hour or 20-25 miles after that. They have sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium. I have seen people go from full blown not able to stand leg cramps to riding with no problems after taking a couple and drinking some water. I have tried Rolaids, but it did not have the same effect.
    Jerry
    Could it be that easy? Admittedly, I did not read the label in a store, but a web search of Tums ingredients do no list potassium or magnesium as an ingredient, active or in-active. And the amount of sodium is so low that it lists it as less than 1% of the adult daily requirement. The main ingredient of Tums is calcium carbonate derived from limestone. Still, it might be worth a try to mitigate the cramping I get during a particularly long and intense ride. About a month ago, in the middle of a century when I was in a situation where I had to really hammer with all I had; not only did my calves cramp, but my quads and hamstrings too. Stopped me dead in my tracks ... for a few minutes at least.
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  21. #21
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    Thanks guys, I'm going to try some of these things 1 at a time & ease into this. Electrolytes seem to be the consensus, I'll try propel & Gatorade along with stretching out. I never go into full blown cramps just some pain & discomfort. Thanks again.
    If you want a lighter bike ? Eat more salads !!!!

  22. #22
    Senior Member irwin7638's Avatar
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    Gatorade,lots of Gatorade helps me eliminate cramps.

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  23. #23
    just keep riding BluesDawg's Avatar
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    They served dill pickle slices at many of the rest stops on BRAG this year. On a couple of very hot days, I was tempted to fill my bottle with the juice.

    I don't usually think about food or electrolytes for rides under two hours, but for longer rides, especially in hot weather, I use some kind of sopplement like Nuun tablets or gels with high salt content. I have also experimented with adding (to my water) Lite Salt, which is a mix of sodium chloride and pottasium chloride. Seems to work, but I'm not sure how much I should be using. It sure is a cheaper solution than the sport products.
    The more you ride your bike, the less your ass will hurt.

  24. #24
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    Loads of good advice here.

    From me - I haven't had cramps cycling, but a few times in hot weather running marathons. Singapore, Jakarta, Dubai, NYC and so forth

    Since the first couple of episodes, 3 tomato and sea-salt sandwiches before anything similar (mainly because I like them). Not a controlled trial, but no more cramps!

  25. #25
    Senior Member TromboneAl's Avatar
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    I talked with my doctor and started taking potassium supplements (99 mg) on a daily basis and I've been doing that for around 4 months and have not had a leg cramp since; while riding or when sleeping. I get the supplements at Sam's Club for dirt cheap and although they aren't as tasty as a banana a day, they are much cheaper.
    An easy way (and probably cheaper) to get potassium: Buy some Morton salt substitute.



    I find that this stuff tastes just like salt. It has 610 mg of potassium per .25 tsp.
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