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How to prevent a cramp ?

Old 08-05-12, 02:35 PM
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John Young
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How to prevent a cramp ?

Been cycling since I was a kids (now 42) and ride quite a few miles a week both on mountain bike and road bike

On mountain bike I have no problems

But on road bike near the end of my ride I sometimes get a cramp in one of my calf muscles. The weird thing is where I get the cramp is often on the same area of road which is flat and easy. The rest of my route is quite hilly and have no problems there but on the easy part I get cramp.

I stretch before I set off and have water with me as a drink

Any suggestions would be appreciated as this has never happened before in all my many years of cycling

Is my age catching up on me....
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Old 08-05-12, 03:14 PM
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Biking or not, I most often get cramps when I'm pushing a muscle to work hard, and then suddenly stop. The muscle still wants to contract and there's no significant resistance stopping it from doing just that. Maybe you should try taking it easier on the hard parts, and harder on the easier parts of your ride.

If you're not locked into your pedals, and you do get a cramp, you might also try bracing the crank steady with the foot of your good leg, putting the ball of your other foot on the pedal and stepping down hard without letting the crank move. This can stretch out your calf muscle and force the cramp away, though it will probably hurt.
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Old 08-05-12, 03:26 PM
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Thanks, yeah suppose that makes sense about the muscle working hard then not. Just before the part where it happens I pedal up a good long hill so sound about right.

Last time when I felt it starting I took my foot off pedal punted my heel down and pushed my leg down hard. That seemed to help and stopped the cramp starting properly.

The last time I got the cramp properly my calf hurt for a few days after but that was unusual as usually once the cramp goes its business as normal
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Old 08-05-12, 03:27 PM
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I get calf cramps from pushing it too hard - for too long. I can occasionally fight it off by standing up, with my offending leg at the bottom of the stroke, and letting my heel dip down as far as it will go. 30 seconds of stretching will get me a few minutes of relief.

It also helps if I focus on keeping my foot flat, and not elevating my heel.
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Old 08-05-12, 04:54 PM
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Thanks, I will try the standing up... not tried that as I always cycle sitting down even on hills
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Old 08-05-12, 06:59 PM
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I can get serious cramping on long rides in hot weather.
I just started using Salt Stick caps available at REI. They do the job.
(Note: I don't have BP issues.)
HTH.
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Old 08-05-12, 07:12 PM
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There are no easy answers/solutions to preventing/dealing with cramping. The more I read online about cramps the more obvious that becomes.
One contributing factor (sometimes for some people) is simply exceeding your fitness level. I tend to have more cramps - usually in the calves - early in the cycling season when pushing too hard for too long.
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Old 08-06-12, 12:56 AM
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When I first started commuting, I pushed myself too far, too fast and got a few cramps. Worst was when I came up to a 4-way stop sign and nearly fell over when my turn to go came up.

Drink before you're thirsty and depending how much you are sweating, maybe throw a pinch of salt in your water.

I used to get cramps at night after working in the sun but a lot of that stopped when I took one of those MRE salt packets and spread it into two canteens, about 1 qt each. It tasted like crap, but you don't have to put that much. I was drinking one canteen an hour and still didn't piss clear just to give you an idea of how much I was exerting myself.
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Old 08-06-12, 01:12 AM
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I have a lot of experience with cramps. The best thing you can possibly do is to ensure you are hydrated at all times. This is the number one reason I found why I cramped. Drink up and drink a lot before, during, and after your ride. And make sure you get your share of potassium. In effect, a good source is to eat banana(s) before a long ride. Finally ensure you stretch that muscle out before, during, and after your riding. Get that blood and oxygen flowing in there. You do these 3 things, and you won't have a problem.

I'm 45 and every time i ensure I have my fluids... my cramp rate goes WAY down. Try it if you think I'm full of it.

Last edited by toddles; 08-06-12 at 01:16 AM.
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Old 08-06-12, 03:47 AM
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Thank you everyone for the tips and help, I do drink when I am riding but never used any salt and don't drink loads before just a normal glass of water maybe need to drink more before.

I also stretch before a ride, I stretch the calves by standing against a wall at at angle with my feet flat on the floor. Is there some other stretching I should be doing for them ?

I do eat bananas sometimes before a ride but not all the time maybe I should have one before each ride

Also I don't stretch after so that is maybe a good idea to
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Old 08-06-12, 05:24 AM
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I haven't been able to find an explanation of cramping. My doctor said it really isn't that well understood. I get cramps after fifty or sixty miles, especially on the first long ride of the year.

I read somewhere that bananas might help prevent cramping because they contain potassium(?).

I'm wondering whether alcoholic drinks play a role in causing cramps.

Age might also play a role, but I don't know what to do about that.
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Old 08-06-12, 11:32 AM
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It wont be alcohol on my part as I don't drink.

I never had cramps ....ever ... when I was younger and cycling a LOT further so age must have some part in it
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Old 08-06-12, 03:50 PM
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Originally Posted by John Young View Post
It wont be alcohol on my part as I don't drink.

I never had cramps ....ever ... when I was younger and cycling a LOT further so age must have some part in it
Yeah, aging sux but that's why we fight through it... so we don't age as fast or as poorly, right? Well at least one main reason. I too don't always eat bananas, etc.... but I do drink fruit juices and definitely notice if I stretch out those muscles that seem to give me grief through my ride during small breaks it really helps.

Last edited by toddles; 08-06-12 at 03:53 PM.
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Old 08-06-12, 05:11 PM
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Originally Posted by ironwood View Post
I haven't been able to find an explanation of cramping. My doctor said it really isn't that well understood.

.
He's got that right.
Eat. Drink. Stretch. Exercise hard. Exercise easy. Rest. Etc, in no particular order.
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Old 08-06-12, 05:36 PM
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Hmmm... so drink, stretch, eat bananas and stop moaning and get out there and ride....... about right ?
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Old 08-06-12, 09:09 PM
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It's ok to moan while climbing a steep hill.
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Old 08-06-12, 09:31 PM
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Originally Posted by JanMM View Post
It's ok to moan while climbing a steep hill.
I never moan while climbing a steep hill. If I'm by myself, it's usually a bunch of F-bombs that refer to the hill in unpleasant ways.
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Old 08-07-12, 03:09 AM
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Originally Posted by JanMM View Post
It's ok to moan while climbing a steep hill.

*LOL* Moan and groan eh......
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Old 08-07-12, 04:24 AM
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OP: Again, try Salt Stick caps.
They contain 5 electrolyte ingredients, including potassium, calcium and magnesium.
They keep me from cramping, and I am a serious cramper.
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Old 08-07-12, 08:14 AM
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I usually cramp going uphills, so maybe my symptoms are different. Enduralytes have an immediate effect, which makes me wonder if it is a placebo effect. But in any event, it works so I'll take it
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Old 08-07-12, 09:00 AM
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Originally Posted by NJgreyhead View Post
OP: Again, try Salt Stick caps.
They contain 5 electrolyte ingredients, including potassium, calcium and magnesium.
They keep me from cramping, and I am a serious cramper.
Thanks for the info... were would I buy these ( I am in the UK) ?
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Old 08-07-12, 11:47 AM
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Want to make a million dollars? Find a way to stop cramping that holds up to scientific scrutiny. So far, no one has done it. That means all you can do is try every solution you can find and see if it works for YOU, knowing that it may be useless for everyone else.

For me, it was a combination of getting in better shape, stopping taking statins, and getting my body keto adjusted, so that my carbs come from fat stores rather than carbs. I also drink on average 1 bottle of water an hour with those 0 carb electrolyte replacement tablets.

I still cramp up occasionally, but only after the ride, almost never during the ride.
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Old 08-07-12, 12:54 PM
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Went for a ride today and I was OK, stretched loads, drank lots and eat a few bananas
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Old 08-08-12, 05:01 AM
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Try Google.
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Old 08-08-12, 05:04 PM
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Originally Posted by NJgreyhead View Post
Try Google.

Does that go in my water bottle or rub on my legs
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