Cramps

1 of the most dreaded things to a cyclist is getting CRAMPS: it sucks, and once they start there is usually not much you can do during one.

Just what is going on when you get a cramp? The exact cause of muscle cramps is still unknown, but the theories most commonly cited include:

* Altered neuromuscular control
* Dehydration
* Electrolyte depletion
* Poor conditioning
* Muscle fatigue – doing more than usual at a certain activity
* Doing a new activity

But first, let’s try to avoid them!
To aid in avoiding cramps I will add a little sea salt the day before and the day of an event.
Because I have experienced some leg cramping before on fast rides before, I will also take some electrolytes the day of an event. If the ride is going to be more than 4 hours, I will usually take extra electrolytes during the ride.

When I feel those first little twinges, of an upcoming cramp, I have ‘delayed’ them by pouring water on the area that I feel the cramps starting. Maybe it is a placebo effect, but it seems to help some.

During a cramp there isn’t much you can do other than avoid making it worse and try to stretch out the cramping muscle. Ask anyone that has had them before and it sucks!
Once I start cramping, it is usually a sign that the body is not getting enough nutrients and I will try to get in more calories quick!

Cramps usually go away on their own without treatment, but these tips appear to help speed the relaxing of the muscle:
* Stop the activity that caused the cramp (as if you have a choice).
* Gently stretch and massage the cramping muscle.
* Hold the joint in a stretched position until the cramp stops.

After cramping I try to stretch as much as possible before getting in the car, then do more flexibility work by using a foam roller once I get home. The compression will help loosen the tight muscles allowing more blood flow and nutrients to reach the muscles and flush out toxins that are by-products of the activity.

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2 thoughts on “Cramps”

  1. I find that, strangely, getting out of the saddle and killing it on a hill climb is one of the few things that gets rid of leg cramps for me once they’ve started.

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