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  1. #1
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    Lurker with Major Spasm problem.

    Ok. I have been a lurker for a while and post occasionally. Here is my problem

    I started riding back in June of 06 and am hooked. I ride alot (4-6 Days a week) 25 miles mineach ride . So i ride a fair share of miles and most are ascending and descending. I ride a loop here by my house that has 4 mile climb then I (not very steep 4-6 %) come back to the bottom and do it again (depending on the day I do this on average 5 times at the very least - . I do this 3 days a week. The other 2-3 days I get out I do one hard climb (hard for me (12 % over 2 miles) and the rest is mostly flat (30-35 miles).

    My problem lately is that my right calf muscle is starting to get spasms lately. Also Last week I had major shin splints that just about had me in wheelchair.Yesterday I went for my first ride since the shin splint issue and everything felt fine. However today I did get a muscle spasm in my right calf. When I feel the muscle spasm coming I use the left leg to move me forward in order to keep the right leg from just locking up.

    anyone else have these problems? i drink plenty of fluids and try to eat right. What could be the problem. i was thinking perhaps because of some bigger rides in the last month my body is depleted of minerals or something. Is that silly or perhaps that is the case. last month I rode a century at a decent pace (5:15 hrs/Min) and then the rest of the month had some long climbing days. Could this be the cause? What can I do to help the cramps and the shin splints? does taking post ride vitamins and recovery drinks help? Please help as I have no clue what to do. except cry myself to sleep.

    BTW - I'm 6'1 169 lbs. I tend to spin rather than pushing big gears. I don't know if this helps at all but whatever.

    thanks in advance to anyone who replies

  2. #2
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    If you only started riding last summer and you are doing hard climbs 4-6 days a week, it's very likely that you are getting overuse injuries. Shin splints is almost always a sign of overuse.

    I think you are working too hard. It's okay to work hard some days, but if you do it day after day you can easily reach the point where things start breaking down, especially if you don't take enough time off when you are injured. For example, shin splints do not go away in a week.

    Your nutrition - especially recovery nutrition - could be a contributing factor, but I don't think it's the main cause.

    So, you need to back off, give yourself time to recover from your current issues, and then be more mindful about recovery. That can be recovery rides, but make sure that they really are recovery rides.

    On the subject of shin splints, my understanding is that you can get that when you lift up too hard, which suggests you're riding at a cadence that's too low. You don't mention what you need by "spin", so I'd suggest staying about 90 RPM until you are healed, especially on hill.

    Hope that helps.
    Eric

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    199x Lemond Tourmalet, Yellow with fenders (Beast)

    Read my cycling blog at http://riderx.info/blogs/riderx
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  3. #3
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    Thanks for the response

    I first got shin splints about 10 days ago. I can still feel them a bit still, but I found stretching techniques on the web that has helped alot( http://www.nismat.org/ptcor/shin_splints/ ). as for RPM i usually stay well above 100. I kinda have a magic number in my head 113. that is where i still feel comfortable spinning at without feeling , jumpy in the saddle. Often time on rides the hard core guys tell me to shift up because I am spinning too much. The shin splints almost killed me the first several days but for now they feel pretty much gone. kinda like I have headaches but in my shins.. if that makes sense. As for the recovery, I bought a indoor bike that I use when I just want to spin lightly, the kind you see in spinning classes. I believe you are correct about being more thoughtful about recovery tho. I tend to go out and as soon as I hit the pavement I feel like I have to set a " new best" on a particular stretch, or that I have to hold a certain MPH/RPM up a certain climb. I certainly agree that I should learn to take it easy and just have a relaxed ride.

    The biggest problem I am having to deal with is the right calf muscle. its been acting up for some time but until recently it just wants to lock up. I don't get it and can't deal with it. the pain is out of control.

    I just assumed that the spasms are more related to a possible supplement problem or post ride recovery drink of sorts.

    the reason I feel like I need to keep pushing is because I feel like if I don't my fitness level will fall. But i guess if im to injured to ride then my fitness level will fall. .. . what he heck!

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    I was at the gym one time and calf completely locked up for about a minute. I couldn't move it for about a minute, and it was pretty scary. Do you stretch before you work out? I didn't when this happened, and I had just finished a pretty intense workout on the stairmaster. I've found that doing a short warm up, stretching, then starting your serious workout is a lot more helpful than stretching at the beginning.

  5. #5
    Senior Member brevig's Avatar
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    Many times spasms take quite a while to become fully evident. So what you're experiencing is most likely from abuse extending from when you first started your excercises. Continuing proper nutrition and hydration, I would highly suggest that you consult a massage therapist to begin undoing the damage. Spasms can releave themselves naturally. However, keep in mind that it's ischemic tissue (lack of oxygen/blood). The massage therapist will be able to assist in bringing new blood/oxygen to the site. Myofascial release or trigger point therapy could work wonders. Just make sure your therapist actually knows what they're doing and it's not just for "relaxation".

    I'll ask my massage mentor how you could perform self massage on yourself tomorrow.
    Richard Brevig
    By consuming less, I work less...

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by vic32amg
    Thanks for the response

    I first got shin splints about 10 days ago. I can still feel them a bit still, but I found stretching techniques on the web that has helped alot( http://www.nismat.org/ptcor/shin_splints/ ). as for RPM i usually stay well above 100. I kinda have a magic number in my head 113. that is where i still feel comfortable spinning at without feeling , jumpy in the saddle. Often time on rides the hard core guys tell me to shift up because I am spinning too much. The shin splints almost killed me the first several days but for now they feel pretty much gone. kinda like I have headaches but in my shins.. if that makes sense. As for the recovery, I bought a indoor bike that I use when I just want to spin lightly, the kind you see in spinning classes. I believe you are correct about being more thoughtful about recovery tho. I tend to go out and as soon as I hit the pavement I feel like I have to set a " new best" on a particular stretch, or that I have to hold a certain MPH/RPM up a certain climb. I certainly agree that I should learn to take it easy and just have a relaxed ride.

    The biggest problem I am having to deal with is the right calf muscle. its been acting up for some time but until recently it just wants to lock up. I don't get it and can't deal with it. the pain is out of control.

    I just assumed that the spasms are more related to a possible supplement problem or post ride recovery drink of sorts.

    the reason I feel like I need to keep pushing is because I feel like if I don't my fitness level will fall. But i guess if im to injured to ride then my fitness level will fall. .. . what he heck!
    A couple more thoughts:

    1) Try riding at a lower cadence for a little bit. Being able to ride above 100 is a useful skill, but if you spend a lot of time up there your mechanics may make it more likely you hurt yourself.

    2) You are desperately in need of a heart rate monitor and a training plan. And one of the good training books, like "the ultimate ride". At least some of your workout needs to be base miles, and I think you'll find the heart rate limits for that surprisingly low...
    Eric

    2005 Trek 5.2 Madone, Red with Yellow Flames (Beauty)
    199x Lemond Tourmalet, Yellow with fenders (Beast)

    Read my cycling blog at http://riderx.info/blogs/riderx
    Like climbing? Goto http://www.bicycleclimbs.com

  7. #7
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    Well. I kept doing searches and found a couple threads in which they spoke of Magnesium. perhaps this is a problem in my diet and I am not getting enuff magnesium. I bought some today. of course this is not the solution but could be helpfull to have. also I have a very low sodium diet so I am trying to increase on the salt. From a physical stand point I am very bad with stretching and waming up. My warm up routine usually consist of taking the first 5 miles at a very low cadence and then gathering till i get up to my desired cadence 110-113 RPM. I think a little bit of what you are all saying makes alot of sense and if I take all of it and process bit of it it will probably solve my problem. See, when I ride i like to spin high and on climbs I maintain my cadence till I pop. I assume I am popping because lack of oxygen, chances are that if I were to spin a bigger gear at lower cadence i would probably sustain a decent speed and not crack. I did use a heart rate when I first started but I found myself staring at it nonstop, and it almost seem like it made it difficult because could see I was not doing well. I could feel it and watch the BPM rise.. As for the Massage Im sure if you have someone who knows whats they are doing then It helps. but the few times I have gotten them I felt sick afterwards. almost paralized. i usualy do it after longs rides 75 +. I currently am using a power meter and am in the habit of trying to hold certain wattages on climbs that I do often. i always read material where people state that interval training and hammering yourself into the ground helps with make for a better recovery n the long run..

    I don' know. I did manage to take the day off today. i read the post last night and figured probably a good idea. I mean you are right about the spasm and shin splints. I can tell they are lingering. the spasms are re-occuring, but the shin splints were the worst and that as the first time I ever had them. hopefully never again. I wil ride tommorrow. and will probably do base miles. I will continue to follow what you guys say because , well you probably have years on the bike, more than me im sure.

    i'm sure my kamakazie approach doesnt help as much as it hurts.

  8. #8
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    Shin splints acually are from underworked muscles in your ankle and shin that cannot keep pace with your stronger calf and other leg muscles.


    Running acually helps build up those muscles to avoid shin splints. You wont overtax your shins running unless you are a runner already.

    (inline speedskater here.. we deal with shin splints all the time)

  9. #9
    Senior Member brevig's Avatar
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    The reason you feel sick after a massage is due to the release of toxins into your circulatory system. It's quite common to get a runny nose during or immediately after the massage. As well, if you don't drink adequate water afterwards to flush out the toxins you will almost guaranteed get a headache. For these reasons, massage is generally contraindicated if you already have a cold or infection...since it only contributes more for the body to have to filter.

    The fact you felt sick afterwards could really just be a sign of how much build up of toxic waste you needed to flush out.

    Sorry I wasn't able to get you the other information; I'll try to post it soon.

    Richard Brevig
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  10. #10
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    Yeah i'm not a runner. The impact on my knees is just too much. I never run. I hear running is bad for you if you're a cyclist ? ! ? The only thing I can think of that could have cause the shin splints is that I have been working on climbing out of the saddle. perhaps because of that I am working muscles i don't often use (since most of my climbing is in the saddle). I have been trying to get some more out of the saddle training lately tho. well - before the shin splints. I guess a good I dea is when I feel healthy again to moderately increase the amount of out of saddle climbing. I think this would be a major help if what you are saying is correct. Because out of the saddle is kinda like running but on wheels right?

  11. #11
    Stooge thebankman's Avatar
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    My calves get that spasm "cramping" if I've been overtraining or just going on a seriously vigorous bike ride, and then stretch them out while sitting. I think it's mainly from overtraining and immediately stretching the leg muscles as far as they'll go without massage. Usually hot water on the leg muscles will help them relax a bit. And yes it's incredibly painful when those leg muscles fully lock up!! LIke you I drink lots of fluids and eat plenty of calories after each ride.

  12. #12
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    Try a cal/mag pill after every ride. 500mg calcium w/250mg magnesium. That fixed me.

  13. #13
    It's ALL base... DScott's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by vic32amg
    Yeah i'm not a runner. The impact on my knees is just too much. I never run. I hear running is bad for you if you're a cyclist ? ! ? The only thing I can think of that could have cause the shin splints is that I have been working on climbing out of the saddle. perhaps because of that I am working muscles i don't often use (since most of my climbing is in the saddle). I have been trying to get some more out of the saddle training lately tho. well - before the shin splints. I guess a good I dea is when I feel healthy again to moderately increase the amount of out of saddle climbing. I think this would be a major help if what you are saying is correct. Because out of the saddle is kinda like running but on wheels right?
    I can't remember where I saw it, but I heard someone say that the calves are used mainly for stability- that the majority of cycling "work" is done by other muscles (quads, for instance). Standing and climbing require much more fromt eh calves then sitting and spinning, but I couldn't tell you what proportion that would be.

    So it could be that your calf spasms are aggravated by that out of the saddle work. Is this possible?

    IMO, I would agree you are likely over-training, and should really try some long slow rides, some days off, and little or no fast or aggressive work for a week or two. Start back slowly with some more sturcutred training.

    The other issue is dehydration- with your low sodium diet, you may not have sufficient electrolyte intake to retain enough water. I've heard that we "should be" drinking up to one gal. of water per day.

    good luck!

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