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leg cramps during and after riding

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leg cramps during and after riding

Old 12-08-14, 02:55 PM
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bikeguyinvenice
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leg cramps during and after riding

Funny I never had leg cramps before, but now I have experienced them twice in the last 2 months. I know hydration has something to do with it, how do electrolytes play into the equation?
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Old 12-08-14, 04:14 PM
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Originally Posted by bikeguyinvenice View Post
Funny I never had leg cramps before, but now I have experienced them twice in the last 2 months. I know hydration has something to do with it, how do electrolytes play into the equation?
The experts aren't in agreement about what causes cramping ... but for me, it's mainly dehydration. However, in order to hydrate properly, it helps to consume electrolytes. On a shorter ride, you might just go with salted almonds or a small packet of potato chips mid-ride. On a longer ride, you might want to take electrolyte tablets.

Other things like tight elastic on your shorts, not warming up properly, and lack of fitness (trying a climb or distance you haven't tried before) may play into it as well).
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Old 12-08-14, 04:59 PM
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^^ What she said. I usually find the lack of water or electrolytes is when I have leg issues. I always put Hammer's Endurolyte powder in my bottles and make sure I drink 20-24 oz an hour...no more, no less. Recently, I got a new bike and noticed that my legs just did not have the power they normally do. Discovered my seat post clamp was not tight enough and my saddle was slipping a bit and was about a cm too low. Once I raised it back to proper height, tightened it down a bit, all is well in bikeland.
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Old 12-08-14, 05:10 PM
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most threads concerning cramps end up with little in the way of consensus. i do know that they rarely occur without some kind of moderate to excessive leg excercise somewhere in the mix.
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Old 12-08-14, 05:37 PM
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Just another thought,, if you know you're going to have along ride or run, or a very fast ride or race,,, start your hydration the day before, have your body ready the day before the event,,,
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Old 12-08-14, 05:50 PM
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I know hydration has something to do with it, how do electrolytes play into the equation?

I don't know the answer to that except to say that the times I had leg cramps (in bed, not on the bike) were days where I did not drink much water. I typically drink two or three pots of tea per day.
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Old 12-08-14, 08:42 PM
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Originally Posted by hueyhoolihan View Post
most threads concerning cramps end up with little in the way of consensus. i do know that they rarely occur without some kind of moderate to excessive leg excercise somewhere in the mix.
+1
My stoker and I both felt as if our legs might cramp yesterday near the end of our first significant tandem ride in several weeks. (Cramping didn't happen.)
For me, cramping is usually related to biking beyond my current fitness level.
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Old 12-08-14, 09:47 PM
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Leg cramps for me usually occur, if at all, at night in bed after a hard ride earlier that day. I'm not a fan of artificial electrolyte additives to my water bottles, though I've been curious about them - I've just never tried them yet and leg cramps are rare for me. Proper hydration is obviously important both before and after a ride, and water is the best for that. You can generally tell if you're properly hydrated by the color of your pee, which should be close to clear if you're getting enough water in your system. Salt in the form of eating potato chips is probably not a great idea due to the high fat content of those chips. Use salt in your regular cooking to a moderate extent and your salt intake should be fine. Bananas are a great source of potassium, which may help to alleviate those cramps, and stretching might be just as effective if not more so.
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Old 12-09-14, 08:27 AM
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Originally Posted by hueyhoolihan View Post
most threads concerning cramps end up with little in the way of consensus. i do know that they rarely occur without some kind of moderate to excessive leg excercise somewhere in the mix.
+1

As your conditioning goes up, the likelihood of cramping goes down.

I've never had a hydration related cramping episode that I could identify as such, even on those "whoops, I got lost and ran out of water" rides. Busting my a** on long, fast, club rides? Yeah, sometimes cramps.
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Old 12-09-14, 04:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Atakuweh View Post
Leg cramps for me usually occur, if at all, at night in bed after a hard ride earlier that day. I'm not a fan of artificial electrolyte additives to my water bottles, though I've been curious about them - I've just never tried them yet and leg cramps are rare for me. Proper hydration is obviously important both before and after a ride, and water is the best for that. You can generally tell if you're properly hydrated by the color of your pee, which should be close to clear if you're getting enough water in your system. Salt in the form of eating potato chips is probably not a great idea due to the high fat content of those chips. Use salt in your regular cooking to a moderate extent and your salt intake should be fine. Bananas are a great source of potassium, which may help to alleviate those cramps, and stretching might be just as effective if not more so.

I didn't start using electrolyte tablets until I suffered from hyponatremia on one particularly long ride. Then I started using them and discovered that they settled my stomach on those long rides. They also allow me to drink more without developing hyponatremia.

Potato chips are an excellent source of both electrolytes (sodium and potassium) and fuel (fat and carbs). If the ride is short (under 2 hours), they're not needed, of course, but if the ride gets up into 4 or 6 or 8 or more hours, a bag of potato chips really hits the spot.

And bananas ... they are a source of potassium, but not one of the best ones. Baked potatos with the skin on (a delicious choice for a mid-long ride meal), potato chips, dried apricots and salted almonds are better. In fact, if you look up the nutrition data of salted almonds, you've got pretty much all your electrolytes ... so if you're not into tablets, try a packet of salted almonds.
Nutrition Facts and Analysis for Nuts, almonds, oil roasted, with salt added
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