Cramping SUCKS! But with a little foresight, you can help prevent this awful, muscle ripping event from happening. How to prevent cramps can be as much of a race strategy as winning & often can be the difference between winning and not even finishing.
I was out doing a pre-ride of an upcoming race with some friends. This time trial oriented Mt. bike race is called the Snake Creek gap in Dalton, GA. and it happens in the 3 coldest months of the year. This is a unique event in that the bike and rider are shuttled to the start of the race. You are allowed to start whenever you want & your start time & finish time are recorded.
They were doing a hilly 34 mile route and I was doing the second half, so the rocky, nasty 17 mile route. When we met up things were good as they re-fueled for the 2nd half of the course. As we went along 1 of them starting cramping.
He was on a single speed and he was either over-geared or under nourished today. As cramps often do, they started off with the twinges & the normal signs of muscles that are about to cramp. He took some more endurolytes, but usually once you are feeling the signs of cramping you are already behind in nutrition to prevent immediate further cramping.
I went out for a ride with some friends last weekend and we did nearly 3 hours before we got back to the car. Some folks had to head home, but a few friends were going back out for loop. Feeling as tired as I did, the idea of stopping and relaxing was appealing – but friends were here & we were at a Fun trail, I downed some more HammerGel, refilled the flask, and drank as much Nuun as I dared at the moment, and we headed back out for another hour. While out riding, the legs were twinge like they wanted to cramp, so I backed off the power and spun as best I could & kept trying to get fluids and nutrition.
Once back at the car & changed we were hanging out when suddenly my toes starting curling and I had to forcefully use my hands to straighten them back out – they were cramping. By far, not the worst I have cramped, but enough that I didn’t want it to get worse. Luckily we were back at the cars.
Once you are cramping all you can try to do is Stretch the muscle that is cramping. I have personally had some relief from pouring water on the muscle also – cooling effect.
Then start to ingest a lot of nutrients & the more readily digestible the better. I like HammerGels & Nuun tablets. Other people prefer a more traditional method of pickle juice and mustard.
Still another friend of mine likes antacid tablets and V-8 juice.
Which ever method you like or have available and that works, is the best option. I won’t get into what and what doesn’t work because most studies are so complicated and some not done properly that all the information can be confusing/mis-leading. “Buyer beware!”
A good rule of thumb is to Prepare as best you can! Two days in advance is when the nutrition will start to matter most. Day of an event is most critical. The more good stuff you can consume the better. And I have to almost remind or force myself to start drinking and eating much sooner than I feel like I need to – I have never been disappointed with this method.
After cramping and getting Hydration and nutritionally recovered I will do Myofascial Release with a foam roller and/or stretching!
Any other methods or tips I may have missed? Post them below Thanks!