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Cramps...but in your shin?

Old 10-18-22, 10:38 PM
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Frustrated
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Cramps...but in your shin?

I’ve spent hours online reading about leg cramps, causes, etc. While it appears many get them during their ride in the calf, I get them about six hours later in my shin. I guess one would identify the muscle group as the tibialis.

Ultimately what happens is I’ll wake up late at night/early morning with a cramp. Usually it’s in one leg (rarely both legs simultaneously). The cramp doesn’t jolt me out of bed like a calf cramp might, this cramp simply causes my foot to sort of contort and bend. While I don’t jump out of bed immediately, ultimately I do get up because it almost becomes unbearable: so I get up to apply my body weight on my foot to “stretch” or “pull” the muscle to make the cramp go away. And then I quickly try to fall back asleep! :-)

But then, the cramp will either come back again within an hour or so, or worse, happen in the other leg! Never at the same time…

While I do take supplements, especially magnesium to help better absorb the potassium, nothing seems to help. Sometimes when I “catch” the cramp early enough, I’ll rest my other leg on top of my cramping leg to “prevent” the muscles from contorting my foot. I’m thinking about getting some blood work done to measure my nutrients.

Anyone else here had, or heard of such an occurrence? Everyone I’ve talked to about this to date have all looked at me like I’m crazy… :-)
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Old 10-19-22, 06:22 AM
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Nocturnal leg cramps are very common and can affect any muscle group. Their pathophysiology is unknown. Most cases occur in isolation, but they are associated with enough bad health conditions to make it worth talking to your doctor if you haven’t already and ignoring the folk remedies and one-off anecdotes you’re going to get on the internet.

Potassium supplements are irritating to the GI tract and have no use for anyone with a healthy diet who is not losing potassium due to kidney disease or diuretic use.
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Old 10-19-22, 07:18 AM
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Shin splints are no fun. Like most other cramps, it's often unclear what the cause is. Some things that may help include:
- Rest
- Training
- Fluids
- Salt tablets
- Time
- Luck
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Old 10-24-22, 01:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Frustrated View Post
leg cramps in my shin in the tibialis muscle group
I got these (3) times I think this summer. it was after a long hot work shift w/ lots of sweating, followed by jumping in our condo pool. couldn't walk them off & massaging didn't get rid of it, so I went back home & took my electrolyte mix of these supplements in small doses
  • magnesium
  • potassium
  • calcium
  • sodium
with a big glass of water & went back to the pool with no further problems

it was weird, for sure
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Old 10-24-22, 02:55 PM
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Back in the day, I used to do performance distance running. (Mostly, up and down hills ... hard work.) Made sure I was well-hydrated, and made sure I had sufficient nutrition including electrolytes. But, early on particularly, I still occasionally had some cramping. For me, in my case, the hydration and nutrition aspects were in-hand, as was sleep. When I dramatically boosted the amount of strengthening and stretching in the affected muscle areas (ie, calves, shin area muscles, feet [since much training was in the hills on trails]), nearly all of this disappeared. I chalked it up to simply not being sufficiently prepared for the level of challenge I was inflicting upon those muscles. Though, I don't know for certain.

Can't say whether it'd be much the same with you. But, if you think your nutrition and electrolytes are all up to snuff, you might consider a handful of targeted strengthening exercises and stretching to better-prepared those specific muscles. Might well be all it is. Even if it isn't, you wouldn't be any worse off.

A WAG, but something to try.
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Old 10-25-22, 08:14 AM
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Nocturnal and exercise-related cramps are clinically different entities, even though they may share a mechanism. Nocturnal cramping occurs often in sedentary individuals and is loosely associated with a bunch of bad health conditions, medications, and hormones. There are no data to implicate fluid or electrolyte status in either condition.
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Old 10-25-22, 08:28 AM
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Do you take any prescription meds? Some will cause cramps in some people. So read all the literature about them and ask a pharmacist or your doctor if you aren't quite understanding the less than simple language they sometimes use.
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Old 10-25-22, 11:34 AM
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Originally Posted by Frustrated View Post
I’ve spent hours online reading about leg cramps, causes, etc. While it appears many get them during their ride in the calf, I get them about six hours later in my shin. I guess one would identify the muscle group as the tibialis.

Ultimately what happens is I’ll wake up late at night/early morning with a cramp. Usually it’s in one leg (rarely both legs simultaneously). The cramp doesn’t jolt me out of bed like a calf cramp might, this cramp simply causes my foot to sort of contort and bend. While I don’t jump out of bed immediately, ultimately I do get up because it almost becomes unbearable: so I get up to apply my body weight on my foot to “stretch” or “pull” the muscle to make the cramp go away. And then I quickly try to fall back asleep! :-)

But then, the cramp will either come back again within an hour or so, or worse, happen in the other leg! Never at the same time…

While I do take supplements, especially magnesium to help better absorb the potassium, nothing seems to help. Sometimes when I “catch” the cramp early enough, I’ll rest my other leg on top of my cramping leg to “prevent” the muscles from contorting my foot. I’m thinking about getting some blood work done to measure my nutrients.

Anyone else here had, or heard of such an occurrence? Everyone I’ve talked to about this to date have all looked at me like I’m crazy… :-)
I've had tons of leg cramps, the type that do result in eye-tearing pain and stops my breathing. These cramps have been all up and down my legs, but never in the tibialis -- that's strange. Have you started doing some kind of activity you've never done before? Or maybe MoAlpha's post might apply?

I have actually started a new exercise regimen that involves exercising (and stretching) my tibialis, but even then I have yet to feel any cramping in my tibialis. I would recommend looking into exercising this area of the leg, as well as other parts such as the hip flexors and other parts. Sad thing is that cycling is not enough on its own to have strong legs. Check this guy out, he sounds a little like just another Youtube freak, but these exercises are great for building healthy joints, his main focus are the knees, but tibialis exercises are a major part of that.

This is just one of his videos, I recommend adopting all of his exercises, helps my screwed up knee tremendously and it addresses an often overlooked part of the leg -- the tibialis.


Originally Posted by MoAlpha View Post
Nocturnal and exercise-related cramps are clinically different entities, even though they may share a mechanism. Nocturnal cramping occurs often in sedentary individuals and is loosely associated with a bunch of bad health conditions, medications, and hormones. There are no data to implicate fluid or electrolyte status in either condition.
Thanks, that's good to know, I've never even heard of nocturnal cramping, I guess because I've never experienced it, but very good to know...
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Old 10-26-22, 08:48 PM
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I've had laying in the ditch rolling around leg cramps in the early season from going much too hard when I wasn't in shape for it yet. As MoAlpha says, studies show no evidence of dehydration or electrolyte balance being a factor. My wife used to have really bad leg cramps in the middle of the night, and quite frequently. As she got in better shape those diminished a lot. My memory is that they stopped completely when we started taking 100mg of potassium citrate with dinner. Again I don't think there's any clinical evidence of that being efficacious, OTOH I don't think there's evidence to the contrary, there not being a tech in anyone's bedroom to take blood samples. BTW, the technical term for those night cramps is "idiopathic cramps" .

Remission: I've found that pickle juice and mustard both make cramps go away, both exercise induced and idiopathic. Our proven dosage is 3 swallows of pickle juice. There's also a commercial preparation called Hot Shots. Peppermint Tums, 500mg, are also effective, though for unknown reasons, only that brand, dosage, and strength, and which also for unknown reasons are a little hard to find. These things work because of taste, nothing to do with electrolytes or anything else. That's why they work in ~2 minutes, far too fast to get into the bloodstream. We buy our pickle juice by the case from Amazon.
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35416793/
https://runnersconnect.net/pickle-juice-muscle-cramps/

https://www.cooperinstitute.org/2016...-muscle-cramps
However, the acetic acid in pickle juice is ‘noxious tasting’ and proposed to chemically stimulate a reflex in the back of the throat. This reflex has been shown to decrease activity in the alpha motor neurons which causes muscle relaxation.
We've also tried several different physical things to relieve leg cramps. Walking around works but it's slow. Simply lying completely still and relaxed and trying to meditate maybe works faster, but it's hard to do. Pickle juice can also be taken ahead of possible cramping issues and lasts for maybe 3 hours, though I don't have as much experience with this.
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Old 10-26-22, 10:08 PM
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I've had bad leg cramps for years. Deep throbbing knots lasting for hours, Almost always coming at night but after exercise that day. Golf is much more of a precursor than cycling.

But in the last year or two, the cramps are more often coming in the shin. It's not the same pain as shin splints, it's a different sort of cramp. Often extends into the top of the foot. It's an odd change after decades of cramping in a different way. The shin cramps are a bit better in that they don't last as long.
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Old 10-27-22, 09:17 AM
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You need to take a lot of water after a ride. For example. If you ride with medium effort for 2 hours you need to take post ride at least 2 bottles of 620 ml (2 camelbak bottles). Add hydration tablets and any other recovery drink. You need to calibrate your intake according the weather.

Second take a urine exam and check its density. It will say you if you suffer of dehydration in a normal day.

Bottom line: water and water and water.
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Old 10-27-22, 10:12 AM
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I think I drink more water than the average person, I can't tell you how many times I've heard people say, "I can't stand water, because it has no taste". Luckily, I don't mind water having no taste, I still enjoy drinking it in lieu of some flavored drink -- I guess I'm just lucky that way.

However, there is a danger of drinking too much water, without proper nutrition, especially electrolytes. When I go on 3+ hour rides under the brutal Florida sun, in the middle of a summer day, I only take water. But that's because I eat a very healthy diet, much of which is grown in my yard. But if you are lacking in proper nutrition, drinking that much water, while at the same time sweating a river, this could be dangerous. It's a condition called Water Intoxication.

It's something us endurance types need to always be mindful of. Even non-endurance people need to be careful, see below, a lady died doing some radio contest ("Hold Your Wee for a Wii" competition).

https://abcnews.go.com/GMA/jury-rule...ory?id=8970712

Jury Rules Against Radio Station After Water-Drinking Contest Kills Calif. Mom

Jennifer Strange's death should be a warning to other reckless corporations.

The husband of a California woman who died after participating in a radio station's water drinking contest said he hopes a jury's $16.5 million compensation award following a wrongful death lawsuit will send a message to other corporations dealing with the public.

"It was a preventable thing," Billy Strange told "Good Morning America" today of his wife's 2007 death from water toxicity. The radio station, he said, "had the information months in advance that this could cause harm."

After two weeks of deliberations, jurors last week found Entercom Sacramento LLC, a subsidiary of Philadelphia-based Entercom Communications Corp., liable for the actions of its employees at Sacramento radio station KDND-FM, the Associated Press reported.

Jennifer Strange, a 28-year-old mother of three, was among 18 people who entered the "Hold Your Wee for a Wii" competition. They tried to drink as much water as they could without urinating in a bid to win a Nintendo Wii gaming console.

Though the defense argued that Strange should have accepted some responsibility in knowing that drinking so much water was dangerous, Billy Strange's attorney Roger Dreyer told "GMA" that she acted as any normal person would have in those circumstances.
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Old 10-27-22, 10:18 AM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
I've had laying in the ditch rolling around leg cramps in the early season from going much too hard when I wasn't in shape for it yet. As MoAlpha says, studies show no evidence of dehydration or electrolyte balance being a factor. My wife used to have really bad leg cramps in the middle of the night, and quite frequently. As she got in better shape those diminished a lot. My memory is that they stopped completely when we started taking 100mg of potassium citrate with dinner. Again I don't think there's any clinical evidence of that being efficacious, OTOH I don't think there's evidence to the contrary, there not being a tech in anyone's bedroom to take blood samples. BTW, the technical term for those night cramps is "idiopathic cramps" .

Remission: I've found that pickle juice and mustard both make cramps go away, both exercise induced and idiopathic. Our proven dosage is 3 swallows of pickle juice. There's also a commercial preparation called Hot Shots. Peppermint Tums, 500mg, are also effective, though for unknown reasons, only that brand, dosage, and strength, and which also for unknown reasons are a little hard to find. These things work because of taste, nothing to do with electrolytes or anything else. That's why they work in ~2 minutes, far too fast to get into the bloodstream. We buy our pickle juice by the case from Amazon.
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35416793/
https://runnersconnect.net/pickle-juice-muscle-cramps/

https://www.cooperinstitute.org/2016...-muscle-cramps


We've also tried several different physical things to relieve leg cramps. Walking around works but it's slow. Simply lying completely still and relaxed and trying to meditate maybe works faster, but it's hard to do. Pickle juice can also be taken ahead of possible cramping issues and lasts for maybe 3 hours, though I don't have as much experience with this.
Having studied motor control for several years at the beginning of my scientific career, I just love the pickle juice/mustard thing. I've never had a leg cramp I couldn't break by putting steady stretch on the muscle and there's no way I can go get pickle juice when it happens. I also get abdominal muscle cramps with sudden movements (like jackknifing convulsively to stretch a hamstring cramp) and they are very hard to stretch.
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Old 10-27-22, 10:19 AM
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Just to re-iterate what was said in the first replies here, your cramps may not be related to anything you do while riding a bike or exercising.

So the advice about how to hydrate and use electrolytes while cycling might be a red herring.
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Old 10-27-22, 10:24 AM
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Originally Posted by work4bike View Post
I think I drink more water than the average person, I can't tell you how many times I've heard people say, "I can't stand water, because it has no taste". Luckily, I don't mind water having no taste, I still enjoy drinking it in lieu of some flavored drink -- I guess I'm just lucky that way.

However, there is a danger of drinking too much water, without proper nutrition, especially electrolytes. When I go on 3+ hour rides under the brutal Florida sun, in the middle of a summer day, I only take water. But that's because I eat a very healthy diet, much of which is grown in my yard. But if you are lacking in proper nutrition, drinking that much water, while at the same time sweating a river, this could be dangerous. It's a condition called Water Intoxication.

It's something us endurance types need to always be mindful of. Even non-endurance people need to be careful, see below, a lady died doing some radio contest ("Hold Your Wee for a Wii" competition).

https://abcnews.go.com/GMA/jury-rule...ory?id=8970712
Happens distressingly often, notably with inexperienced athletes in endurance events. When I was a neurology resident, I took care of a young man, hospitalized with uncontrollable OCD, who got access to a sink without the staff noticing and drank himself into the ICU in a matter of hours. I can't remember if he survived.
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Old 10-27-22, 11:00 AM
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Originally Posted by MoAlpha View Post
Having studied motor control for several years at the beginning of my scientific career, I just love the pickle juice/mustard thing. I've never had a leg cramp I couldn't break by putting steady stretch on the muscle and there's no way I can go get pickle juice when it happens. I also get abdominal muscle cramps with sudden movements (like jackknifing convulsively to stretch a hamstring cramp) and they are very hard to stretch.
Pickle juice is either in a jersey pocket or on the bedside table or in the car's console. You oughta try it. We use those 6 oz, Hammer flasks, handy and don't leak.
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Old 11-02-22, 05:13 AM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
Pickle juice is either in a jersey pocket or on the bedside table or in the car's console. You oughta try it. We use those 6 oz, Hammer flasks, handy and don't leak.
I'd rather have cramp than pickle juice.
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Old 11-02-22, 09:00 AM
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Originally Posted by PeteHski View Post
I'd rather have cramp than pickle juice.
Maybe you've never rolled around in the ditch in agony, watching the little animals run up and down your legs under the skin. The biggest thing for me though is muscle damage. If it were just pain, I wouldn't mind so much. Cramps, real cramps damage my muscles more than any exercise I might do. They get torn up and take several days to just get back to where they were, never mind getting stronger. Whatever strength increase I might have gotten from that ride is zeroed out. And it's no fun watching your wife in agony in the middle of the night. Besides, I really like pickles!

If you don't like pickles, try that Tums suggestion. Take 2. Or keep that mustard packet the next time you get fast food.
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Old 11-02-22, 09:08 AM
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I started having very painful cramps a few years ago when I was serious about training. I never heard of cramps hurting so bad and before these episodes, I thought cramps were just a minor issue. This is the first video that I came across that talked about seriously painful cramps I started feeling. Also, in my case, they were not restricted to just the inner thigh.

My only saving grace is that I never had these cramps on a ride or run. They always happened after being home for a few hours.

Interesting video if you've ever suffered from excruciating painful cramps.


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Old 11-02-22, 10:07 AM
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Originally Posted by work4bike View Post
I started having very painful cramps a few years ago when I was serious about training. I never heard of cramps hurting so bad and before these episodes, I thought cramps were just a minor issue. This is the first video that I came across that talked about seriously painful cramps I started feeling. Also, in my case, they were not restricted to just the inner thigh.

My only saving grace is that I never had these cramps on a ride or run. They always happened after being home for a few hours.

Interesting video if you've ever suffered from excruciating painful cramps.
I've seen that video and think they are correct about that issue. They are talking about expert, well-trained riders who still get cramps under specific circumstances, namely being low on carbs near the end of a long and hard ride. 45 minutes is a long video. The cramping I describe below could have been aggravated by insufficient carbs, hard to know

I think it's common to get "under-training cramps" where one is doing a ride that's over one's head at that point. My best recipe for being off the back with monster cramps was going anaerobic on a hard climb for 10'-15', then a few minutes later, doing a hill sprint, then a descent and some easy stuff and then the next real use of my legs, say a 2% grade at pace would have me off the bike and on the ground. Another good one was a long ride with lots of high effort, say 3-4 hours, then a final 22% grade. That worked, too. More rides like those fixed the problem, no more cramps all season. Just something I had to go through. Didn't happen to everyone, just me, I think because I had to go harder than those youngers with whom I was riding. I took in more carbs during our rides than anyone else, though possibly still not enough as I was more likely to be anaerobic. This was in my late 50s.
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Old 11-02-22, 06:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
Maybe you've never rolled around in the ditch in agony, watching the little animals run up and down your legs under the skin. The biggest thing for me though is muscle damage. If it were just pain, I wouldn't mind so much. Cramps, real cramps damage my muscles more than any exercise I might do. They get torn up and take several days to just get back to where they were, never mind getting stronger. Whatever strength increase I might have gotten from that ride is zeroed out. And it's no fun watching your wife in agony in the middle of the night. Besides, I really like pickles!

If you don't like pickles, try that Tums suggestion. Take 2. Or keep that mustard packet the next time you get fast food.
It was a joke, but fortunately I very rarely get cramps.
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