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Plagued with cramps once again....

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Plagued with cramps once again....

Old 11-19-18, 08:45 AM
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Plagued with cramps once again....

Last year I did my first Horrible Hundred event. It’s a century ride that has some decent Florida Hills that are plentiful. Anyway…

Last year for the H.H Ride, I felt great up until about mile 70 something. Then bang… INTENSE leg cramps. Level 10 pain which left me stuck with a stiff leg not really able to move. It took quite a few minutes to subside. I then walked my bike up the hill I got the cramp on. Felt ok… So started riding again. The next 25 miles were 5-6 more of similar cramps ranging from a 5-10 on intensity level.

This year I worked a lot on flexibility, Yoga, movement, doing warm ups and post workout stretching. I’ve become a lot more flexible and overall better conditioned.

This year, for the H.H. Ride I focused on proper nutrition/calories before and during the ride. Drinking the proper amount of fluids as well. Adding electrolytes and sodium (LiteShow) to ALL of my water bottles. Etc… Still… CRAMP CRAMP CRAMP! And at almost the same exact spot! Maybe 1-2 miles earlier. So all my preparation and planning to avoid cramps made absolutely no effect!

Also…

This is not just bicycle related. But has the most serious effect while cycling. If I do a workout and manage not to cramp directly after, I might move my leg laying down in bed and get the same excruciating leg cramp. I have to be VERY careful on how I position my leg in the morning when putting my socks on or the same thing could happen.

Ps… Seeing a Specialist/Doctor about this is a LAST resort. I do not have insurance and it’s not really in the budget right now.
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Old 11-19-18, 11:38 AM
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There are very few doctors that could do anything anyway. Cramps are not a well-understood phenomenon.

I really don't know what to suggest. Maybe try a different electrolyte. I use Vitalyte, and it seems to help a lot.

One trick I have used when I couldn't avoid cramps is to just put an electrolyte capsule under my tongue. It's weird how well that works. The two problems I have had is that they eventually melt, so spitting them out before they burst is essential. Second is that the effect wears off immediately when I spit them out. This has worked with enduralytes and SaltSticks.
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Old 11-19-18, 03:01 PM
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Did you actually improve on your bike fitness in the last year? Did you ride at a pace slower or harder than you did in the previous year? Cramps are almost always cause by overexertion relative to your fitness level for too long, and hydration and electrolytes and nutrition won't fix that.
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Old 11-19-18, 04:16 PM
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Fitness seems to be the number one factor involving cramps, in my experience. Once you start pushing past what you typically do (I generally always cramp in the first few road races each year, but rarely after once I'm more accustomed to the intensity and duration), seems the fatigue starts causing the muscles to go crazy.

Calcium has helped me a bit,, as has the hyper expensive hotshot potion, but only to a certain extent. Once I get into really, really crazy long and hard races that I'm never adequately prepared for, it's almost guaranteed cramps.
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Old 11-19-18, 06:10 PM
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For me, cramping is about fitness or lack thereof.
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Old 11-19-18, 11:08 PM
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Pretty much nothing to do with hydration or electrolytes, and as others have said, doctors are no help. Fitness, fitness, fitness is what fixes cramps. Train harder than you'll ever go in an event ride. Longer, too. However, plain old pickle juice, carried in a 6 oz. Hammer Flask, is a huge help. By the bedside, too. It takes ~3 oz. Brand name Tums, 500mg size, also works, but not as well as pickle juice. You can even buy pickle juice for this purpose in little bottles on Amazon, not expensive.

Also, try a 500mg/300mg calcium/magnesium capsule after every ride. Helps me.

It helps me to cross train also: mostly running, hiking, weight training.
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Old 11-20-18, 02:20 AM
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Originally Posted by sen2two View Post
I felt great up until about mile 70 something.

This year I worked a lot on flexibility, Yoga, movement, doing warm ups and post workout stretching. I’ve become a lot more flexible and overall better conditioned.

This year, for the H.H. Ride I focused on proper nutrition/calories before and during the ride. Drinking the proper amount of fluids as well. Adding electrolytes and sodium (LiteShow) to ALL of my water bottles. Etc… Still… CRAMP CRAMP CRAMP! And at almost the same exact spot! Maybe 1-2 miles earlier. So all my preparation and planning to avoid cramps made absolutely no effect!
So ... between last year's century and this year's century, how many centuries or longer rides have you done?
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Old 11-20-18, 02:47 AM
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Used to think cramps were some electrolyte/salt shortage, then inability to disperse lactic acid... lately there's talk that cramps are triggered via nervous network like a fit or seizure...

...yeah none of the pro nerds know
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Old 11-20-18, 05:35 AM
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So the overwhelming response seems to be fitness level. I want to reiterate that these cramps will also happen when I have been off the bike as well. So it's not only a cycling problem. My main focus is martial arts (Kick Boxing/Jiu-Jitsu). So a lot of my training is developed around that. Imagine someone trying to pass your legs to make their way to your neck and apply a choke. Then your leg cramps and you have to straighten out completely. While someone attempts to choke you! This has happened...lol. Now, I don't claim to be the most fit person on earth. But in a gym consisting of Pro and Amateur fighters, I'm known as the person who usually does the harder workouts and is more fit/strong than the majority. This is not an ego boast. Just me thinking out loud through the keyboard.

Maybe I am "fit" in reference to the workouts I normally perform, but not in the right areas needed to correct my cramping problem? I have read cycling will shorten hamstrings, while deadlifts lengthen them. Maybe stretching, Yoga, and warmups are making me more bendy, but doing anything for the problem at hand?

I am leaning towards getting bloodwork done to see if i am deficient in anything first. May be cheaper in the long run versus paying for Calcium/Magnesium Supplements, and other Band-Aids that might not be doing anything at all...
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Old 11-20-18, 05:40 AM
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Originally Posted by sen2two View Post
I am leaning towards getting bloodwork done to see if i am deficient in anything first. May be cheaper in the long run versus paying for Calcium/Magnesium Supplements, and other Band-Aids that might not be doing anything at all...

Yes, see a Dr.

But how many centuries and other long rides are you doing in between your Horrible Hundred events?

How much are you cycling each week?
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Old 11-20-18, 05:55 AM
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There are a whole range of culprits that add up to leg cramps. Fo me electrolyte levels and balance are important.

Sodium, Potassium and Iodine are important but for me the most important salt/electrolyte to prevent muscle cramps is Magnesium. Also too much Calcium will add to cramps.
Magnesium deficiency is somewhat common as its a really difficult mineral to absorb if your deficient. The more deficient you are in Magnesium the less your body absorbs. Its a really difficult catch 22 and I still struggle with it myself.
Something else that is helping me is to take Spirulina. Spirulina is a micro algae / green superfood.

Broadly speaking its about your bodies acid/alkaline balance. Being too acidic will cause your body to have an excessive demand for alkaline minerals to buffer the acidity and its these alkaline minerals like Magnesium, Potassium and Sodium that allow your muscles to relax.

Too much meat and alcohol are acid forming. Green vegetables are alkaline forming. Spirilina is a useful supplement to get enough "green" into your body.
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Old 11-20-18, 07:06 AM
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Beyond training to combat cramps brought on by going too hard or too long and nutrition cramps brought on by depleting your electrolytes it's possible Although flexible, you may be cramping when you're in a position that you can hit but not under muscle contraction.
I'm flexible in comparison to most folks my age, and I can bring my my heel to my butt however, if Id contract my hamstring at that position I would cramp. To combat that I would stretch weekly and perform hamstring curls. Problem solved. Also isometric exercises helps. Facing then Pushing a wall (concentrating on using your legs) with one leg in front and one leg behind is a tremendous exercise for alleviating hamstring cramps. Unlike stretching to increase your flexibility where you need to relax your muscles to stretch. The solution is stretching those same muscles with tension. It sounds counter intuitive but for cramps brought on by tension in a certain position it works.
You'll have to isolate the exact muscles cramping then work on the solution. I see this alot more with beginners in grappling martial arts then almost anywhere else.
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Old 11-20-18, 07:34 AM
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Anyone here familiar with this?

https://www.outsideonline.com/200717...-muscle-cramps

Flex Pharma

Edit: At $5 per bottle, it's really not a year round solution. If it's something you have to use regularly, it's WAY too costly. But, if it works per the scenario. Like taking one before a Century ride, and maybe another half way through or at the hint of cramping. I would be all in.

Last edited by sen2two; 11-20-18 at 07:37 AM.
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Old 11-20-18, 07:51 AM
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You still haven't answered Machka's question. Cycle further and cycle more often instead of trying to remedy your cramps with fluids of all sorts.
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Old 11-20-18, 08:42 AM
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Originally Posted by Machka View Post
Yes, see a Dr.

But how many centuries and other long rides are you doing in between your Horrible Hundred events?

How much are you cycling each week?
Originally Posted by alois View Post
You still haven't answered Machka's question. Cycle further and cycle more often instead of trying to remedy your cramps with fluids of all sorts.

I normally ride once on the weekend. 30-40 miles. I did a couple 55 milers leading up to this. But nothing further.

I would also ride to work once a week to work. 23 miles each way.

I know this is not much compared to most riders on here. But I also ride the stationary bike for 60 minutes (HARD) before every workout I do off the bike. Which is almost everyday.

As I mentioned before though, I get the same cramps even if I hadnt ridden the bike. So the cramps are caused by a "workout". Not a specific type, ie; cycling. I am not trying to solve my cycling cramps. I'm trying to solve my cramping problem as a whole.
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Old 11-20-18, 09:54 AM
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Originally Posted by sen2two View Post
I felt great up until about mile 70 something. Then bang… INTENSE leg cramps. Level 10 pain which left me stuck ...

This year, for the H.H. Ride I focused on proper nutrition/calories before and during the ride. Drinking the proper amount of fluids as well. Adding electrolytes and sodium (LiteShow) to ALL of my water bottles. Etc… Still… CRAMP CRAMP CRAMP! And at almost the same exact spot!
Originally Posted by sen2two View Post
I know this is not much compared to most riders on here. But I also ride the stationary bike for 60 minutes (HARD) before every workout I do off the bike ...
So that we know an important component that might well be contributing to the problem ...

Question: How much of which electrolytes do you consume, before and during your "hard" pre-workout and your century attempt(s)?
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Old 11-20-18, 11:36 AM
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Originally Posted by sen2two View Post
So the overwhelming response seems to be fitness level. I want to reiterate that these cramps will also happen when I have been off the bike as well. So it's not only a cycling problem. My main focus is martial arts (Kick Boxing/Jiu-Jitsu). So a lot of my training is developed around that. Imagine someone trying to pass your legs to make their way to your neck and apply a choke. Then your leg cramps and you have to straighten out completely. While someone attempts to choke you! This has happened...lol. Now, I don't claim to be the most fit person on earth. But in a gym consisting of Pro and Amateur fighters, I'm known as the person who usually does the harder workouts and is more fit/strong than the majority. This is not an ego boast. Just me thinking out loud through the keyboard.

Maybe I am "fit" in reference to the workouts I normally perform, but not in the right areas needed to correct my cramping problem? I have read cycling will shorten hamstrings, while deadlifts lengthen them. Maybe stretching, Yoga, and warmups are making me more bendy, but doing anything for the problem at hand?

I am leaning towards getting bloodwork done to see if i am deficient in anything first. May be cheaper in the long run versus paying for Calcium/Magnesium Supplements, and other Band-Aids that might not be doing anything at all...
Your second paragraph is good insight. A couple years ago I had a similar cramping problem to yours on a long event ride with a lot of climbing. I had hamstring and back cramps. After the event, I figured out that I'd been focusing on my weakness - climbing - and had been ignoring my strength - flats. I hadn't had any cramping on my climbing-focused training rides, but this particular event had a lot of flats on the run-in to where the climbing started. I finally figured out that I just hadn't been doing enough high cadence, high effort flats work where leg effort and position are quite different from what I use on big climbs. I changed my training over the next season and had good performance on that same event the next year. Analyze what went wrong and train to fix it.

I'll repeat that it's not electrolytes or hydration. People with perfect focus on those items cramp just as much as the dehydrated and electrolyte-poor. There's very good med-tent evidence of that.

To be able to finish a century, one has to ride at least 100 miles/week for several weeks in a row. To have strong performance on a century, 200 miles/week is the number.

My experience with cramping is from myself and my wife. She's a real cramper. She'll get night cramps more when her training is light, but she'll also cramp when she's upped her game that day. She'll cramp on the bike only if there's a really big jump in time at intensity. She takes a potassium supplement at bedtime which seems to help a little.

The proper medical term which doctors use for cramping is "idiopathic" meaning "we have no idea why."
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Old 11-20-18, 01:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post

The proper medical term which doctors use for cramping is "idiopathic" meaning "we have no idea why."

From searching the internet, this is the real consensus.
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Old 11-20-18, 03:27 PM
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To rectify cramping as a whole in your life you need to rectify your bodies acid/alkaline balance.

If the "mainstream" has convinced you that is all a bunch of Hocus Pocus well then you should understand why the "Mainstream" has no cure.
Rubishing the real solution as a first step gets you nowhere
Look up acid/alkaline balance. Too much meat, Sugar, Soda and alcohol in your diet are big acidifiers (I'm not claiming that you have to give them up completely). "Green" foods are important alkalises.
The supplement Spirilina is really handy for getting more "Green" into your diet.
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Old 11-20-18, 04:09 PM
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I've always used spirulina. Has nothing to do with cramps.
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Old 11-20-18, 04:24 PM
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Originally Posted by AnthonyG View Post
To rectify cramping as a whole in your life you need to rectify your bodies acid/alkaline balance.

If the "mainstream" has convinced you that is all a bunch of Hocus Pocus well then you should understand why the "Mainstream" has no cure.
Rubishing the real solution as a first step gets you nowhere
Look up acid/alkaline balance. Too much meat, Sugar, Soda and alcohol in your diet are big acidifiers (I'm not claiming that you have to give them up completely). "Green" foods are important alkalises.
The supplement Spirilina is really handy for getting more "Green" into your diet.
balance in what, blood? lymph? muscle? intracellular? How is this measured? How has the "mainstream" not tested this before?
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Old 11-20-18, 04:44 PM
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Originally Posted by redlude97 View Post
balance in what, blood? lymph? muscle? intracellular? How is this measured? How has the "mainstream" not tested this before?
The problem that the "mainstream" has is that its obsessed with testing Blood. Where it falls apart completely is that your body has an inbuilt system to keep your blood buffered at the correct level. The whole issue of muscle cramps is brought on by your body depleting your muscles stores of electrolytes in order to keep the blood at the correct level.

Your Doctor tests your blood levels and says that they're fine. Of COURSE they're fine. Your body turns itself inside out in order to maintain them at the right level.
I've talked to Doctors about this and they KNOW its true but there are no other tests available so they "keep to the program".

I'm not claiming that Spirulina alone is your cure yet it is a very useful way to get more "green" into your diet.

Look into acid/alkaline balance. It works.
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Old 11-20-18, 04:54 PM
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Originally Posted by AnthonyG View Post
The problem that the "mainstream" has is that its obsessed with testing Blood. Where it falls apart completely is that your body has an inbuilt system to keep your blood buffered at the correct level. The whole issue of muscle cramps is brought on by your body depleting your muscles stores of electrolytes in order to keep the blood at the correct level.

Your Doctor tests your blood levels and says that they're fine. Of COURSE they're fine. Your body turns itself inside out in order to maintain them at the right level.
I've talked to Doctors about this and they KNOW its true but there are no other tests available so they "keep to the program".

I'm not claiming that Spirulina alone is your cure yet it is a very useful way to get more "green" into your diet.

Look into acid/alkaline balance. It works.
If it works why do we still get vegan athletes that cramp?
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Old 11-20-18, 04:55 PM
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I don’t have any idea what causes leg cramps but I know they plagued me when I was younger almost daily, and as I have aged subsided to once ever few months. They almost always occur when I’m asleep. If I can’t straighten my leg out and get rid of them pretty fast then I am sore the next day. I hope you find something that helps you as they are very painful.
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Old 11-20-18, 06:16 PM
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Originally Posted by AnthonyG View Post
To rectify cramping as a whole in your life you need to rectify your bodies acid/alkaline balance.

If the "mainstream" has convinced you that is all a bunch of Hocus Pocus well then you should understand why the "Mainstream" has no cure.
Rubishing the real solution as a first step gets you nowhere
Look up acid/alkaline balance. Too much meat, Sugar, Soda and alcohol in your diet are big acidifiers (I'm not claiming that you have to give them up completely). "Green" foods are important alkalises.
The supplement Spirilina is really handy for getting more "Green" into your diet.
It's impossible to change your body's pH. This is for a very good reason: if you could, you'd probably die. You can change the pH of your urine quite easily. This is sometimes misunderstood. However changing the pH of your urine will not confer any advantage to your physiology. Zero.

Sure, look it up. This silliness has been getting debunked for at least the past 50 years, which is when I first heard about it. Those 50 years haven't helped at all. Charlatans rule some subjects. There's a simple test: if the person promoting some nutritional theory makes money from said promotion, it's a scam.

Spirulina is not a scam. It's just algae and It's good for you: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2907180/

Kudos to you for pointing it out. It's not horribly expensive if you buy it in bulk and cap it yourself, 00 caps, with a cap machine. Each of such caps is ~500mg. 2g seems to be a clinical dose. It does seem to pep one up a bit too, though I don't know why. We have a box of homemade spirulina caps in the closet which I'd forgotten about. $.02/g from BulkSupplements on Amazon or otherwise. Pretty cheap.
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Last edited by Carbonfiberboy; 11-20-18 at 06:24 PM.
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