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Cramping due to intense workouts

Old 12-09-14, 01:24 PM
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Itsjustb
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Cramping due to intense workouts

Hi folks,

I rode this summer with groups who did a much faster pace than I normally would. On nearly every one of these (twice weekly) rides both of my calves locked up win some of the worst cramps I've ever experienced. Strangely enough, it happened at almost exactly the same spot every time--I could predict within 100 yards where it would occur.

I assumed it was dehydration (summer rides in NC after work so pretty hot) but my neighbor the sports physiologist says it's more likely the intensity of the workouts that's getting me.

Aside from the obvious (don't ride with them; start with them but don't expect to hang with them), can anyone provide advice on what to do to avoid this? I loved riding with them--I finished the summer a LOT stronger than I started, but I was still cramping like crazy.

Thanks in advance,

Beej
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Old 12-09-14, 03:00 PM
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cramping? potassium, magnesium, sodium & calcium. pre and post workouts. dosing and timing is everything. research. easy on the magnesium it can cause loos stools. and of course hydration. after workouts you might also benefit from 20-40 minute hot soaks in an epsom bath, don't be shy with the epsom, 2-3 cups, some ppl use 10 cups. add some good bath soap and have a 1/2 glass of red wine. I use this stuff Dr. Teal's Foaming Bath with Eucalyptus Spearmint lots of drug stores and walmart carries it

Dr. Teal's Foaming Bath Relax & Relief with Eucalyptus Spearmint | Walgreens
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Old 12-09-14, 03:03 PM
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Eat more bananas and keep hydrated. I never had a cramp in my calf until one particularly tough race. I stood up for the sprint and bang, major calf lockup in my left leg. I could barely pedal. It was gone minutes after getting off of the bike though and just a tad sore for a few days.

I thought about it for a good long time and decided that since I had a fresh 15 day old collarbone break, that I never stood up almost the entire race due to the pain and weakness so maybe it was a circulation problem as well.
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Old 12-09-14, 04:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Itsjustb View Post
I assumed it was dehydration (summer rides in NC after work so pretty hot) but my neighbor the sports physiologist says it's more likely the intensity of the workouts that's getting me.
What do you drink, and how much, when you're not on the bicycle?

Also, do you experience the cramping when you wear a different shorts?
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Old 12-09-14, 07:13 PM
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Your neighbor is correct. It's the intensity. Some suggestions:

Change your pedaling style. Pedal "heels down," relaxing your calves and putting the force into your heels. It should feel like you are pedaling with the heel cups of your cycling shoes. You may have to lower your saddle a bit to do this.

Ride more. Just plain more hours per week on your bike, not necessarily hard riding, just riding along but including some hills. You should be riding at low to moderate intensity for at least as many total hours per week as you are riding with these groups.

Exercise your calves more. Twice a week get on a stair and, with a couple of fingers on the wall, put one forefoot on the edge of the stair step, hook the other foot behind your ankle, and do one-legged calf raises. Do them from full stretch to full extension and do them until exhaustion: until you can't do another one. If you can do one set of 30 of these on each leg with no problem, calf strength is probably not the issue. If you can't, do them until you can do at least 30. It will hurt: ignore it.

Always carry Tums with you in one of those plastic coin purses. You can get them from Hammer Nutrition among others. At the first sign of a twinge that might turn into a cramp, take a Tums. If you cramp anyway, take another one. This has always worked for everyone I know.
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Old 12-10-14, 12:02 PM
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I sometimes have cramps in one calve. Part of the solution was to move cleats well back. I use mountain type cleats that mount with two bolts in slots that allow sliding the cleats front to back. I lengthened these slots and extra centimeter toward the back for an increased range of adjustment. However, as my fitness increases I ride a bit faster and longer which tends to bring beginning twinges of a cramp. The tums remedy works but I seem to favor a product called Sport Legs. I've seen my calve muscle twitch with the beginning of a cramp and within minutes of taking two Sport Legs tabs, those beginning cramps will subside.
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Old 12-10-14, 12:14 PM
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Preparation before your workouts are most important to avoid cramping. In addition to hydration, electrolyte levels must be reinforced, especially if you are an extremely "salty sweater" like myself. I used to play a lot of Ultimate frisbee, and at long tournament days, the calves were the first thing to give out and cramp up upon jumping and running. I would resort to drinking nothing but Gatorade (mixed richly from powder mix) throughout the day. The problem is that for myself, if I were to simply drink water, the extreme loss of salt and electrolytes through sweating could cause severe problems with over hydration and throw off the balance of electrolytes in the body. I had this happen once in my life, while roofing on a hot summer day....I was hydrated enough, but drank too much water, thus not replenishing vital electrolytes. I had to go to the hospital that evening, as my kidneys were on the verge of shutting down.
To address your original concern, make sure to have a proper balanced meal earlier in the day, get properly hydrated, and stay properly hydrated with sports drinks and such during your workout. This should help with the cramping issues.
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