Cramp - how do I avoid it?

Discussion in 'Road Cycling' started by wotnoshoeseh, Feb 5, 2011.

  1. wotnoshoeseh

    wotnoshoeseh New Member

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    Hi,
    I've come back to cycling after almost 20 years and up to now my top distance has been about 27-28 miles.
    Well today I topped that. I went out with a group and we clocked up almost 41 miles at an average speed of ~16 mph. However at 32 miles I started to get a cramp in my right calf.
    What can I do to avoid getting this cramp? Is there something I can take, either before or during the ride, to prevent this?
    Or am I just past it?? LOL
     
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  2. john gault

    john gault New Member

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    Usually it's an indication of low potassium, eat bananas and also potatoes are a very good source of potassium. Also ensure your hydration is good, but with good hydration is the concern of dilluting certain electrolytes, so be careful to get enough sodium if you're drinking a lot. Basically same ol' same ol': Good nutrition, hydration and plenty of rest.

    But in the end you can still get cramps and you just gotta keep working at it, building up the body.

    BTW, I never take OTC pills such as tylenol, ect... for pains/cramps. But that's just me.

    Check these out:
    http://www.bicycling.com/training-nutrition/injury-prevention/welcome-back?cm_mmc=BicyclingNL-_-2011_02_01-_-trainingandnutrition-_-welcome_back

    http://www.bicycling.com/training-nutrition/nutrition-weight-loss/deconstructing-dairy?cm_mmc=BicyclingNL-_-2011_02_01-_-trainingandnutrition-_-deconstructing_dairy
     
  3. EncinitasChaco

    EncinitasChaco New Member

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    I wish there was a clear-cut answer to this problem, because I'm plagued by massive cramps 4 to 5 hours after a hard ride. Of course, you take care of the obvious things -- hydration, vitamins, potassium, magnesium, stretching, etc.

    But the simple fact is that no one knows what exactly causes cramps or how to prevent them. All you can do is try a bunch of different things and hope that one or more of them works for you.
     
  4. SCPIBiker

    SCPIBiker New Member

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    As the previous poster stated, its more likely potassium. Try a sports drink such as Gatorade instead of water and see if it goes away.
     
  5. bgoetz

    bgoetz Member

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    Hydration and nutrition are always good to stay up on. It also may just be that your body is just not use to doing anything more than 27-28 miles, which is why at 32 miles you started having issues. Make certain you are stretching before and after your rides and if possible try to stop at around the 30 mile mark and get a good stretch in. Then slowly start adding on miles taking care to stop and stretch when needed. If I am going to do a 50 mile non stop race/ride I would prepare by doing a couple of longer 75 mile + rides where I have the ability to stop and get off of the bike when needed. I would not attempt to just go out and hammer out 50 miles. You also may want to check your fit on the bike, if your seat height and fore and aft is not correct it could also be causing calf cramps. While I have never tried it I have heard that a rolaid or another similar antacid supposedly helps, never gave it a shot, but it may be worth a try.
     
  6. tonyzackery

    tonyzackery Well-Known Member

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    I'm going with low sodium and hydration levels...sports drink containing some sodium should sort you out.
     
  7. wotnoshoeseh

    wotnoshoeseh New Member

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    Thanks all - I did have a 20 oz. bottle of Powerade with me but maybe that wasn't enough...
    I'll add another water bottle and cage from here on in anyway just to be safe. Maybe, I was biting off a little more than I could chew, and maybe a few stretches before starting out or even during a rest stop would help.
    Does antone have any good stretches that they could propose. I seem to remember a stretch that entailed standing with my back flush against the wall and pushing up on my toes...

    Thanks,
     
  8. EncinitasChaco

    EncinitasChaco New Member

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    Stretching before your ride is generally not a good idea. It has the opposite effect of stretching after exercise. As for hydration, a good starting point is consuming around 1 bottle per hour. I suspect a lot of the solution is just getting used to the extra strain on your muscles.
     
  9. john gault

    john gault New Member

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    Actually that should be enough, unless of course you're severly depleted in those nutrients from your normal diet. One 20oz bottle should be plenty for a 30 mile ride, actually I only drink water for a 30 mile ride. Water should always be your primary fluid intake -- too much of the sugars in sport's drinks can irritate the stomach.

    And I second the recommendation about not stretching prior to activity, it's a myth. Stretching is good only done as a completely different activity and at the end of an activity when the muscles are still warm. And, of course a little intermittent stretching during an activity, especially a long activity is alright, but I wouldn't make a conscience effort at it, i.e. just what feels natural.

    I've found that warm-ups are crucial before a ride, but not stretching. But that's not just my personal experience talking: http://www.fitday.com/fitness-articles/fitness/stretching/3-stretch-routine-myths-to-ignore.html
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by wotnoshoeseh .

    Thanks all - I did have a 20 oz. bottle of Powerade with me but maybe that wasn't enough...
    I'll add another water bottle and cage from here on in anyway just to be safe. Maybe, I was biting off a little more than I could chew, and maybe a few stretches before starting out or even during a rest stop would help.
    Does antone have any good stretches that they could propose. I seem to remember a stretch that entailed standing with my back flush against the wall and pushing up on my toes...

    Thanks,
     
  10. limerickman

    limerickman Moderator

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    As the others have said, hydration and nutrition will help offset cramping.

    However upping your average mileage from 28 miles to 41 miles in one swoop might explain the cramp/img/vbsmilies/smilies/wink.gif

    Your muscles just need to become more acquainted with the heavier workload. Slowly increase the mileage and your muscles will become less fatigued
    over the long distances.
     
  11. john gault

    john gault New Member

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    Holy Crap! I missed that. I thought you upped your ride from 28 to 32.

    In which case I totally agree. You probably just freaked out your body with an all-of-a-sudden large increase in mileage.

    Despite getting a cramp at mile 32, going an extra 9 miles makes recovery harder. Curious, how was your intensity level on this day compared to normal?
     
  12. limerickman

    limerickman Moderator

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    Holy Crap! I missed that. I thought you upped your ride from 28 to 32.

    In which case I totally agree. You probably just freaked out your body with an all-of-a-sudden large increase in mileage.

    Despite getting a cramp at mile 32, going an extra 9 miles makes recovery harder. Curious, how was your intensity level on this day compared to normal?



    he almost went 50% further than he had previously ridden!

    Fair play to him for being able to ride further than previously, but I am not surprised that he was cramping badly throughout the extra 13 miles.
     
  13. frankiemuniz01

    frankiemuniz01 New Member

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    The group is separating which makes it insanely more difficult to draft. coming thought the final turn, I stood up and laid in the acceleration, sprinting. One guy next to me was doing the same, and he was just a hair faster than I, but he couldn't hold it for the duration and I edged out in front. I passed two other riders who had were not sprinting. It doesn't really mean anything since I am no where near the top 20 among this 105 riders present. Yeah, there was quite the turnout for the first race of the season. End result, I am happy with my performance today. And as I said earlier, I still have all my skin.
     
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