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Calves Always Cramping.

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Calves Always Cramping.

Old 06-03-04, 09:31 PM
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Calves Always Cramping.

I've been back riding for over a year now and can't seem to get enough. But my only problem is my calves tend to cramp up. I streatch before I ride, I "hydrate" - just not sure what the deal is. Rode a hill course a couple of weeks back and they cramped so bad I had to stop half way up. Tried to streatch them out and my shins were cramping also... Throught I'd simple ride it out... which I did - but the next day I could hardly walk - and my calves had swollen up by at least an inch in cir...

Any suggestions out there as to what I might try or what I might not be doing right - I'd ride every day, if I could just get past this leg thing...

Thanks
Richard
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Old 06-03-04, 09:47 PM
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do you use your calves when you ride? if not, then do; if yes, then don't. either they're too tight or they're too tired. how are you stretching your calves? give yourself warm-up time (15 mins or so, i usually warm-up 30 mins after)

finally, your saddle might be too high...

sd
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Old 06-03-04, 10:24 PM
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What do you hydrate with? If just plain water, then you may be deficient in electrolytes. Eat bananas for potassium, and sometimes salt depletion can cause cramps too. Do a search for "nutrition" and "cramps" for more info.
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Old 06-04-04, 06:31 AM
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Don't forget to stretch after you ride, too.
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Old 06-04-04, 07:04 AM
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Potassium is definitely the best solution for getting rid of cramps.. I use to get them a lot when I worked out hard in the gym. After doing some research, I started having a banana before I went to the gym.. My legs never cramp up anymore..
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Old 06-04-04, 07:28 AM
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You may have to get into the gym and build up your calf muscles with specific excersizes. The calves are lean muscles, so it takes a long time to build up strength. Low weight, high reps.

One excersize that you can do without weights is to stand on a step, and balance yourself on your toe pads with your heel hanging out over the edge of the step. Let your calves stretch by standing on your toes, and then going the opposite direction and letting your heal drop below the height of the step. Do that a lot to build up flexibility and lean muscle strength. Lots of reps.

Should help.

In addition to hydrating, make sure you eat some banans too. The potassium in the bananas should help.
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Old 06-04-04, 07:31 AM
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Originally Posted by bab
Potassium is definitely the best solution for getting rid of cramps.. I use to get them a lot when I worked out hard in the gym. After doing some research, I started having a banana before I went to the gym.. My legs never cramp up anymore..
I second this. I also switched to "Lite" salt, which also supplies potassium in my diet.
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Old 06-04-04, 07:51 AM
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Hi,
could be a number of things. Next ride don't stretch anything.
Start riding gently, and see how it feels as you warm up. If something feels tight after you warm up, stop and stretch. My guess is you irritated the muscle by overuse; and it hasn't completely healed. At some point you want start doing calf raises, just for a month or two. Start very easy, just leaning against the kitchen sink and not putting all your weight on them. As you progress, start wearing a backpack and throw a little more junk in there each week. You can also go to a gym, I like standing calf machines a lot better than the more common calf machine that has you sitting down.
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Old 06-04-04, 02:22 PM
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I am/was susceptable to calf cramps as well. My rides are normally morning rides and I start my day with Raisin Bran and a banana at least 1 hour before a ride. Both high in potassium and some carbs to boot. I also drink 16-24 oz of H20 prior to ride. On the ride I carry one 24 oz bottle of cytomax and 1 24oz bottle of water. This seems to have helped me. Everyone is different and requires a different strategy.
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Old 06-04-04, 03:42 PM
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Thanks for all the good advice. I will look into the suppliments. Just bought a grove of bananas and will really start to monitor how the calves are doing. They certainly look and feel much stronger than they ever have, but I know they need more work. In general when I tense up my lengs and feet I tend to cramp very easily. I have struggled with nightly leg and foot cramps for over 20 years. Would love to find something that finaly works.

Riding a century on Sunday and hope to get through without incident...

Richard
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Old 06-04-04, 08:46 PM
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Sombody once told me there are three reasons a cramp occurs.
1. Muscle is stressed.
2. Dehydration.
3. Lack of electrolytes.
I was told that all 3 must be occuring to get a cramp. Was told this by a sports Dr.
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Old 06-05-04, 05:54 AM
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I agree with most of what has already been said. Personally, raising my seat an 1/8" can cause cramps at the top of the calf and long-term hamstring problems.
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Old 06-05-04, 06:51 AM
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you can also look into supplementing with magnesium. magnesium helps your kidneys retain more potassium and it helps with muscle contraction.
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Old 06-05-04, 07:27 AM
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Originally Posted by RiPHRaPH
you can also look into supplementing with magnesium. magnesium helps your kidneys retain more potassium and it helps with muscle contraction.
raisin bran also a good source for magnesium.....
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Old 06-05-04, 07:43 AM
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i think you also might want to try lowering your seat a pinch. You might be pointing your toes on the down stroke, causing your calf muscle to shorten.
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Old 06-05-04, 08:09 AM
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You might consider moving your cleats back a little.
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Old 06-07-04, 04:21 PM
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I would consider something completely different from "cramping" since this is not what you seem to be describing, especially with the swelling the next day.

Exertional compartment syndrome is what comes to mind. This is a condition in which the "covering" over the muscles is not big enough to accomodate the increased muscle size that occurs during exercise due to increase blood flow. This results in increased pressure on the muscle and this compromises the blood supply and compresses the nerves. If the pressure is high enough, you can cause significant muscle and nerve damage.

The calf is the most common site of this condition.

See an orthopedist/sports medicine physician and specifically describe your problem. The diagnosis comes from repeating the offending activity and measuring the pressure in the muscle compartment (with a needle probe---it's not that bad).
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