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Thread: Getting cramps

  1. #1
    Senior Member trippn1's Avatar
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    Getting cramps

    How do I avoid getting cramps in my legs. I drink water with Powerbar electrolytes drink mix and powerbar gel. What should I do next time to avoid these cramps? Thanks for any help you can provide.
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    You may think this is a joke but a lot of people swear by pickle juice. I've found that it does help for me as well.

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    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Are you drinking about 750 ml of water and/or sports drink every 1 to 1.5 hours?

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    Banana before working out. I heard tomato works to. Also stretch.

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    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    It's almost never electrolytes, dehydration, or stretching, and almost always overuse. Ride more. Particularly ride more hills. If your weekly mileage is over 150, you should never cramp. I know, no hills in Florida but you can do overpass repeats! Or ride in a big gear into the wind 'til your legs give out. If you're riding 200 miles/week, we can talk more.

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    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
    It's almost never electrolytes, dehydration, or stretching, and almost always overuse. Ride more. Particularly ride more hills. If your weekly mileage is over 150, you should never cramp. I know, no hills in Florida but you can do overpass repeats! Or ride in a big gear into the wind 'til your legs give out. If you're riding 200 miles/week, we can talk more.

    Ah, but dehydration is my main cause of cramping ... I've discovered that if my toes cramp (when I'm cycling or when I'm not cycling) I'm dehydrated.

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    I as reading up on the latest cramping research and doctors now tend to think it is not nutritional. Cramps have more to do with the condition of the spinal column.

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    Make sure your vitamins and your SO's pills did not get mixed up! (If the cramps cycle every 28 days ...)

    We don't have enough information to help. When are you getting the cramps? Before, during, after exercise? Weather? Type of exercise (sprints, endurance, etc)? Length of exercise? Frequency of exercise?

    I have a thread in the long-distance forum about electrolyte supplements. I sweat salt and other electrolytes out so bad I was getting sick after a couple of hours. But I have never cramped.

    More information will help us guide to finding the answer.

    David

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    S E Michigan
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    Are the cramps after or during your ride ?

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    Race and Ride michaeldmanthey's Avatar
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    A pro XC skiier told me that Cramping has more to do with over stressing your muscles then it has to do with what or how much you eat or drink. I am not sure about the science behind it but I do know that I do not get as many cramps as I used to. The worst cramping I had was during my first marathon in Portland 2001. The last 6 miles were one cramp after another. It wasn't fun trying to use the curb to stretch the cramp out of my Calf muscle and watching little old ladies pass me. I think I finished the marathon around 3:30 but was shooting for 3:10. I have not run since. Biking is for me!!
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  11. #11
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    Ah, but dehydration is my main cause of cramping ... I've discovered that if my toes cramp (when I'm cycling or when I'm not cycling) I'm dehydrated.
    That's pretty funny! Hey, just learn to relax your toes. Seriously though, researchers have taken blood samples from athletes who wound up in med tents with severe cramps. They were neither dehydrated nor low on electrolytes.

    In my experience of leading and participating in group rides for the past 13 years, I've never lain in the ditch myself, nor found anyone else lying in the ditch with cramps due to anything except exertion beyond training level. I usually find them near or just after the tops of passes, or on steep hills near the end of a relatively short but hard ride, like 100k. I'm talking about the lying-in-the-ditch-while-little-animals-run-under-the-skin-of-your-thighs kind of cramps.

    Never on a brevet other than a populaire, possibly because randonneurs know better, or because they don't go over LT long enough to cause cramping, or because they are well trained. If it were electrolytes or dehydration, you'd think that'd show up on a 1200 when it's well over 100. Instead, all we get is heat exhaustion, never cramping.

  12. #12
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
    Never on a brevet other than a populaire, possibly because randonneurs know better, or because they don't go over LT long enough to cause cramping, or because they are well trained. If it were electrolytes or dehydration, you'd think that'd show up on a 1200 when it's well over 100. Instead, all we get is heat exhaustion, never cramping.
    You haven't ridden on brevets with me then! If I don't drink properly, I'm walking barefoot up and down the shoulder of the road trying to get the cramps out of my toes. But I discovered that when I feel the faintest twinge of a cramp coming on, if I grab my bottle and drink ... and drink quite a bit, not just a little sip ... that seems to ward off the cramps.

    Plus, last summer I cramped in my quads on a century ride. That was a combination of dehydration (I was badly dehydrated) and over-exertion because not only was I not drinking anywhere near enough, I was also riding harder than I was used to. I think that was the first time my quads have ever cramped.

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    Three reasons for cramps - electrolyte imbalance, insufficient fluids, and muscles not trained for that long/intense activity. So take in proper fluids, ensure you have the right electrolytes by either eating or drinking, and train in advance.
    You're just trying to start an argument to show how smart you are.

  14. #14
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    You haven't ridden on brevets with me then! If I don't drink properly, I'm walking barefoot up and down the shoulder of the road trying to get the cramps out of my toes. But I discovered that when I feel the faintest twinge of a cramp coming on, if I grab my bottle and drink ... and drink quite a bit, not just a little sip ... that seems to ward off the cramps.

    Plus, last summer I cramped in my quads on a century ride. That was a combination of dehydration (I was badly dehydrated) and over-exertion because not only was I not drinking anywhere near enough, I was also riding harder than I was used to. I think that was the first time my quads have ever cramped.
    You're absolutely right! Come on down and ride with SIR this spring. We'll be riding in lovely rain while you still have snow. Check the website! That'd be fun. But that is really strange, not to mention weird. I know, it's those spike heels. That'll do it every time. Or maybe you wore them in a previous life.

    I also have had occasions, especially when it's raining, that I'll notice a twinge, drink a lot, and it'll go away. When it's cold and rainy it's easy to forget we need to drink. But those rolling-by-the-road cramps that'll put a person away I only get from going too hard without enough training. And, like you say, the shorter rides are much worse for it. Though I've always been able to get up after 10 minutes or so and continue as long as I keep the effort down for the rest of the day. Cycling is so much nicer than running that way.

    I find that if I take the right amount of electrolytes, it stimulates my thirst so I don't get dehydrated as easily. They also help my stomach empty during harder efforts. I use Endurolytes and keep them in a coin purse up my shorts leg in good weather. For me, 1-2 an hour is usually enough to stimulate thirst.

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    The worst experience of cramping I had was probably due to dehydration. But the cramping I'm more concerned about now is the knotting up of my quads which happens in the final (steepest) kilometers of a 42 km climb (around 3 hours riding). It's been interesting reading this thread because if, as CFB would say, the cramps are due to overuse, then endurolytes won't solve the problem. I just managed to obtain endurolytes yesterday and am planning to use them on this ride in 9 days time. I was looking at the bottle of capsules with great expectation!

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    What causes cramps off the bike?

    That is - hanging around the house, 4 to 6 hours after a ride, suddenly: cramps.

    I get them in my calves, usually.

    ?

  17. #17
    Senior Member JimF22003's Avatar
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    The only cramps I will occasionally get on the bike are in the backs of my calves. I normally only get those early in the season when I'm doing a fairly high cadence.

    My biggest problems with cramping come post ride, one or two or five hours later. Sometimes I turn over in bed, or when getting up out of a chair, my big muscles will just lock up tight. Verrry painful. The worst is if I have a long drive home from a century or so and I cramp up while driving. You have a limited scope in the car to stretch things out, so you just have to ride it out. Ouch!

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    It's ALL base... DScott's Avatar
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    I get the worst cramps climbing down the stairs at work. At that point, I'm not dehydrated, and have no electrolyte imbalance. I can only assume it's a form of muscle fatigue, from over-using muscles that aren't loosened up sufficiently to take the load.

    A good starting point for the explanation: http://www.ultracycling.com/training/cramping.html

    Good hydration and nutrition matter, of course, but the more I look into this, the more I like the muscle fatigue/over-use theories.

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    50000 Guatts of power 127.0.0.1's Avatar
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    htfu
    I like fat bikes
    and I cannot lie.

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    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JimF22003 View Post
    <snip>
    My biggest problems with cramping come post ride, one or two or five hours later. Sometimes I turn over in bed, or when getting up out of a chair, my big muscles will just lock up tight. Verrry painful. The worst is if I have a long drive home from a century or so and I cramp up while driving. You have a limited scope in the car to stretch things out, so you just have to ride it out. Ouch!
    These cramps you can fix by taking 1000mg calcium/500mg magnesium immediately after a ride. If that doesn't fix it, try 1000mg mag. You won't believe how simple this is.

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    you really need to talk to a sports doctor or go to a website with real information. All this speculation and home remedies aren't going to do you any good.

  22. #22
    touring roadie islandboy's Avatar
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    I used to suffer from cramps and tried all the remedies above. Nothing seemed to work as the cramps would start around the 80 km mark. I discovered it was calcium and now as long as I hydrate properly and consume additional calcium before and during my ride I am alright.
    I usually supplement with tablets before and liquuid in one of my bottles.

  23. #23
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Willc73 View Post
    you really need to talk to a sports doctor or go to a website with real information. All this speculation and home remedies aren't going to do you any good.
    You are so right! Never listen to people who have overcome the same problems you are trying to overcome. That'll just bum you out . . .

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