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Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

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Old 07-14-14, 11:03 AM   #1
Flyingblind9
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Chronic Calf Cramps.....

My girlfriend has been suffering from calf muscle cramps after she's been riding. They start during her sleep. I personally use Nuun tablets to replenish my electrolytes especially magnesium and potassium, and occasionally protein shakes after a ride. Are there any other supplements you guys recommend to try and alleviate these muscle spasms? Note: this only occurs after a long ride rather than a recurring health problem.

Last edited by Flyingblind9; 07-14-14 at 11:49 AM. Reason: Grammar Error.
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Old 07-14-14, 11:13 AM   #2
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Compression socks, stretching, lots and lots of bananas, I use E.F.S. on long days.
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Old 07-14-14, 11:16 AM   #3
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Endurolytes work well for me during a ride. Never had an issue with post-ride cramps (especially while sleep riding), so I'm not sure if that translates.

If it were me I'd look at diet/hydration first. There are lots of foods that naturally contain electrolytes.
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Old 07-14-14, 11:19 AM   #4
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Another aid is to vary foot angle at points during a long ride. Intentionally ride with exaggerated toe down for small stretches, and exaggerated heel down at other points. Remember to stand up. Just a wee bit of variety mixed in does a world of good.
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Old 07-14-14, 11:26 AM   #5
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The causes for cramps, and therefore the remedy, is largely unkown.

The data to support dehydration and electrolyte depletion as casuses is actually very week.

What is known is that over utilizing muscles, beyond what they are trained for can lead to cramps. So the best remedy is more training to get stronger.

There's anecdotal support for a number of remedies; pickle juice, mustard, magnesium.

None of those things will kill you so they're worth trying.

Also, for cramps at night, there's an issue of flexing your calf from too tight bed sheets, so loosen up the sheets.
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Old 07-14-14, 11:36 AM   #6
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Is she using clipless pedals or platforms? One of the issues may be too much toeing and/or incorrect placement of the cleats. A proper fitting may be the correct solution to this problem since its only in the calves
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Old 07-14-14, 11:40 AM   #7
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Does she sleep on her stomach with her feet pointed?
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Old 07-14-14, 11:46 AM   #8
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Is she using clipless pedals or platforms? One of the issues may be too much toeing and/or incorrect placement of the cleats. A proper fitting may be the correct solution to this problem since its only in the calves
She is riding clipless pedals. I'll see what adjustments she is at. Maybe it is too far toward the toe of the shoe forcing her to use more calf muscle. We did an adjustment earlier this year for cleat positioning because of knee pain.
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Old 07-14-14, 11:47 AM   #9
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Does she sleep on her stomach with her feet pointed?
Come to think of it, she does sleep on her stomach more than other positions. I'll have to pay more attention to that and see if that is when the cramps start!
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Old 07-14-14, 11:48 AM   #10
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Never had an issue with post-ride cramps (especially while sleep riding).
Sorry didn't realize I didn't punctuate that very well! That's rather amusing that you pointed that one out because I totally see that now. I'd actually be rather impressed if someone could actually sleep ride!
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Old 07-14-14, 11:52 AM   #11
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Endurolytes work well for me during a ride. Never had an issue with post-ride cramps (especially while sleep riding), so I'm not sure if that translates.

If it were me I'd look at diet/hydration first. There are lots of foods that naturally contain electrolytes.
Agreed.
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Old 07-14-14, 11:54 AM   #12
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My girlfriend has been suffering from calf muscle cramps after she's been riding during her sleep.
I would recommend against riding while sleeping.

But seriously, my anecdotal experience supports what has been said here. Overutilizing muscles seems to be the biggest culprit for me followed by dehydration. Flexing muscles while in bed can also trip an episode. Electrolytes, potassium, and proper hydration seem to help.

Protip: People who are prone to leg cramps need to be mindful of large animals in the bed. I once got double leg cramps while sleeping with a large dog, scared the crap out of her, and created a situation that got my blood flowing (mostly onto the sheets). The dog was clamped onto my arm, but my legs were so seized up I couldn't do anything about it. I'd never really thought about the expression "Let sleeping dogs lie" until then...
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Old 07-14-14, 12:07 PM   #13
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...
There's anecdotal support for a number of remedies; pickle juice, mustard, magnesium.

None of those things will kill you so they're worth trying.

...
a pickle juice, mustard, and magnesium sandwich is not a pleasant thought...
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Old 07-14-14, 12:11 PM   #14
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it may not kill you, but after having a pickle juice, mustard, and maganesium sandwich, you'll WISH you were dead...
I can't speak to the magnesium, but I personally have found pickle juice and mustard helpful. And much easier to put down than most things.

Another thing that I've found seems to trigger cramps is stretching in bed. Stretching with pointed toes causes enough issues that I make it a point to avoid doing so.
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Old 07-14-14, 12:19 PM   #15
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Pickle juice stops cramps, there's even a single serve product "Bob's pickle juice" available at Wally World. This however just treats the symptom.

Is she more of a masher or a spinner? If masher, I'd try having her work on upping her cadence.

Does she take statins by chance? For many of us statins and muscle use, beyond sitting on the couch, don't mix. Talk to MD.
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Old 07-14-14, 01:39 PM   #16
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The causes for cramps, and therefore the remedy, is largely unkown.

The data to support dehydration and electrolyte depletion as casuses is actually very week.

What is known is that over utilizing muscles, beyond what they are trained for can lead to cramps. So the best remedy is more training to get stronger.

There's anecdotal support for a number of remedies; pickle juice, mustard, magnesium.

None of those things will kill you so they're worth trying.

Also, for cramps at night, there's an issue of flexing your calf from too tight bed sheets, so loosen up the sheets.
+1 to everything here.
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Old 07-14-14, 01:58 PM   #17
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Pickle juice stops cramps, there's even a single serve product "Bob's pickle juice" available at Wally World. This however just treats the symptom.

Is she more of a masher or a spinner? If masher, I'd try having her work on upping her cadence.

Does she take statins by chance? For many of us statins and muscle use, beyond sitting on the couch, don't mix. Talk to MD.
She normally is a masher so I have been working with her on spinning up hills, faster cadence etc and it's definitely helping her endurance! As for statins that has never been mentioned so I assume she is not taking those!
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Old 07-14-14, 05:04 PM   #18
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As a teenager and young adult with calf cramps, a glass of milk each day would eliminate the problem.
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Old 07-14-14, 05:41 PM   #19
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As a teenager and young adult with calf cramps, a glass of milk each day would eliminate the problem.
She drinks plenty of milk! I should be the one who would be worried about that! I hardly drink the stuff beyond cereal!
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Old 07-14-14, 05:58 PM   #20
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Yeah, I had an issue like that. My wife went on a low salt diet, which pretty much put me on a low salt diet. After a month of that is when the cramping started for me. I now take a few salt stick caps when it is hot out now...
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Old 07-15-14, 12:38 AM   #21
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She is riding clipless pedals. I'll see what adjustments she is at. Maybe it is too far toward the toe of the shoe forcing her to use more calf muscle. We did an adjustment earlier this year for cleat positioning because of knee pain.
+1 I'd slide the cleats back a tiny bit, to take the pressure off the calves

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Old 07-15-14, 01:51 AM   #22
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No statins for some people. Drives CK levels extremely high and can lead to cramping and RLS type symptoms.
I drink V8 juice for sodium/potassium.
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Old 07-15-14, 06:36 AM   #23
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I've been recently getting some nasty calf cramps during the day of after riding or the day after.

Been taking those salt/sodium tablets almost immediately after a ride and I don't get them after a ride anymore. I still do get them a little bit during the ride though.
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Old 07-17-14, 02:55 PM   #24
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My GF has the very same issue and I don't know anyone who is so consistently hydrated.
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Old 07-27-14, 10:11 PM   #25
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Thanks once again for all the feedback here. I figured I'd check back here as an update and the cramps have stopped. We focused more on hydration and electrolyte replenishment but I did notice that when going up hills or when she started getting tired, she would ride with her toe down considerably which would overwork that particular muscle. With that corrected along with steady nutrition, no more cramps!
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