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Massive Cramps in the Night After Riding...Help !!

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Massive Cramps in the Night After Riding...Help !!

Old 05-28-21, 01:51 PM
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Rdmonster69
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Massive Cramps in the Night After Riding...Help !!

So let me start out by saying I had a serious accident in December. I have mentioned it in a few threads. I had a serious comminuted Type 3 tibial plateau fracture and was non weight bearing for 3 months. I made a serious investment in titanium screws/plates and was lucky enough to only have a partially torn ACL/MCL as well as the fracture extended to the MCL insertion site. My meniscus was jacked up as well. I got cleared to start walking in March and by April I ditched the cane and had a limp ... which allowed me to limp to my bike. Some weak mountain biking and neighborhood pedaling to start.


I have pushed pretty hard after starting to ride again this month and have since completed about 200 miles. Getting stronger every ride. I feel decent about my basic nutrition knowledge although I am making some mistakes (totally craping out the last 7 or 8 miles of a 42 miler yesterday because I had no snack while riding). My worry is that my hurt leg has been seriously withered by being non weight bearing. It is obviously undersized. I killed it in PT (meaning did great) and as soon as I was weight bearing I started lots of weighted leg exercises and now cycling. Its slowly coming back and its not crazy undersized now but I can tell.


On my ride yesterday and a few weeks ago on a 35 miler (both longest rides of the year at the time so far) I felt well hydrated (60-80 oz H20 at work, 40 oz on the bike , pre ride meal etc.) but was pretty spent in the latter portion of both rides. Water when I got home, nice meal, protein shake w/BCAAs. Felt pretty accomplished !!


About 3 hours after going to sleep I was woke up with massive cramps in my hamstring on my broke ass leg. Each time they lasted 10-15 minutes and were excruciating. Screaming out loud painful ....freaked my wife out and my dog took off out of the bedroom like a rocket.lol. I kneaded the heck out of it , got up and stretched ....seemed like standing and time helped the most. I'm not sure if its the distance, a missing vital nutrient or poor hydration that has caused this but each time it happened I had definitely pushed it that day. Any ideas would be helpful


I have a different thread on trying to fit a higher stem as my neck was also severely injured and keeping my head extended for a long period is do-able but kind of painful. Doubt its related to my leg issue but it has caused cramping in the large muscles of my back. Never had a big issue with cramping before but I'm telling ya .... I am seriously motivated to keep this from happening. Twice was enough. No residual pain in the morning FWIW.
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Old 05-28-21, 05:31 PM
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foam roller, stretch as needed. hot shower after ride. stay hydrated. oh, and be aware that you're prone to cramps after hard efforts, so keep your legs extended. my arches cramp after rides if I scrunch my toes, so I avoid doing that.
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Old 05-28-21, 05:58 PM
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Most likely you do not have the conditioning to attempt the intensity and volume you're currently attempting and your muscles are overworked and fatigued. Backupoff the current routine and do an easy week with a few rest days thrown in and then try to slowly build to the level that you want and see how it goes.
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Old 05-28-21, 06:44 PM
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Yes, it's just being out of shape. It's not hydration or electrolytes. It's going to take time. Do more time at lower intensity and one-legged strength work. I like 1-legged knee bends from a chair, same number on both legs, the weak leg first, 3 sets say 5 minutes apart, say twice a week after a an easy or endurance ride. I ruptured an Achilles a long time ago. That calf never got as big as the other one, but I can do the same max number of calf raises of both calves. So that leg may never be as big again, but can probably regain its former strength.
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Old 05-28-21, 09:48 PM
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I've had painful wee hour sleeping spasms like that, anywhere in the lower extremities from the thighs and hamstrings down to the arches of my feet. Like, falling out of bed rolling on the floor with the cats looking at me like I'm the crazy one when they're the ones who poop in a box, wear fur in summer and sniff each others butts.

But I digress.

Anyway, after decades of body aches and pains, from sudden spasms to chronic joint and muscle pain, I've read all the credible literature I could find in medical and science journals.

Summary: Nobody knows for certain what causes muscle spasms or how to prevent or fix them. It varies for everyone.

Some of my muscle spasms, especially in the neck and shoulder, are due to old injuries with permanent damage. My C1-C2 are permanently damaged, putting more strain on the muscles to support my noggin. Then more recent injury added a shoulder break and separation along with aggravating the neck injury. And the combination of injuries led to injury-induced scoliosis, a wrong-way curvature of the spine due to muscle imbalance and hip tilt. That in turn can lead to problems pedaling and running due to changes in effective leg length.

That pretty much limits my bike rides to an hour or so continuous riding. On a really good day I might last 90-120 minutes of continuous riding before the spasms start. The other night it was only an hour so I cut that ride short. I can handle longer rides with enough rest breaks to stretch and work out the kinks. I do physical therapy. I tweak my bike fit whenever necessary and have a variety of bikes to choose appropriately to suit my neck, shoulder, etc., on any given day. But it is what it is.

But the arch cramps are unrelated to anything. It has nothing to do with hydration, diet, exercise, injury, etc. I've had 'em since I was a kid and still get those cramps occasionally. Sometimes just the weight of a blanket the wrong way on my toe provokes the spasms. Some days I can jog up to 10 miles without foot pain. Other days just walking to the bathroom causes those arch spasms. So I have about six pairs of running shoes and another three or four pairs of walking shoes, so I have a variety of fits to choose from to suit my feet. And I often supplement or replace the original insoles, usually with ProFoot Miracle insoles (best I've found by far, and I've tried many since I was a kid and needed custom orthotics).

I've mentioned before on the topic that boxer Manny Pacquiao has reported occasional problems with painful spasms, mostly in his calves. He could afford not only the finest medical care available, but could probably single-bank-accountedly fund an entire research project into the topic. But even he hasn't found a reliable cure or preventive.

Besides hydration, electrolytes, massage -- with and without topical analgesics or ointments -- soaks in a hot tub with Epsom salts, stretching, not stretching, etc... I pretty much got nuthin'. Magnesium supplements, especially the mag lactate type, sure seems to help more than most other orally ingested stuff.

Sometimes when it's bad enough I take a muscle relaxer, which does work. My doctors are familiar with my medical history so I have a long term prescription. I seldom use them, maybe once a month, because the pills make me feel sluggish and drowsy for 24-48 hours, and I prefer to stay physically active. Mostly I've used cyclobenzaprine, but I might ask my doc about baclofen to see if it's any better with fewer side effects.
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Old 05-28-21, 09:52 PM
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Originally Posted by billridesbikes View Post
Most likely you do not have the conditioning to attempt the intensity and volume you're currently attempting and your muscles are overworked and fatigued. Backupoff the current routine and do an easy week with a few rest days thrown in and then try to slowly build to the level that you want and see how it goes.
Probably but I can't help myself !! I will take it a bit easier but feel like I am getting stronger every ride. Would really like to do a 50 miler in the next few ,weeks, 🤔
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Old 05-28-21, 10:50 PM
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It's most likely from being out of shape, like others have said. Too much volume/too much intensity too fast.
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Old 05-29-21, 08:56 AM
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Originally Posted by Rdmonster69 View Post
Probably but I can't help myself !! I will take it a bit easier but feel like I am getting stronger every ride. Would really like to do a 50 miler in the next few ,weeks, 🤔
Another approach would be to do five 20 mile rides next week. On 2 of them, do a few 1 minute max effort seated intervals with 5 minutes between them. After a couple of the other rides keep the effort down and do the 1-leggeds after. I think you'll find that plenty of load and faster improvement, in fact that might be too much. Don't do hard efforts if your legs hurt while you're on the bike.
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Old 05-29-21, 09:25 AM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
Another approach would be to do five 20 mile rides next week. On 2 of them, do a few 1 minute max effort seated intervals with 5 minutes between them. After a couple of the other rides keep the effort down and do the 1-leggeds after. I think you'll find that plenty of load and faster improvement, in fact that might be too much. Don't do hard efforts if your legs hurt while you're on the bike.
Lots of good advice to contemplate in this thread. I wish I had 5 days in a week to ride .... my plan will probably be 2 30 mile rides during the week and a longer one on the weekend .... then try and up it in order to go longer the following weekend and stretch out the time to do it in. Really want to get that 50 miler in ...... my legs do not hurt while riding but my knee (the trashed one) will get a tad sore at the end of longer efforts. I am super good at listening to my body as a veteran of riding/lifting and hurting myself lol ...... hopefully a tweak I have planned to my riding set up will help as well.
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Old 05-29-21, 09:32 AM
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Originally Posted by Rdmonster69 View Post
Lots of good advice to contemplate in this thread. I wish I had 5 days in a week to ride .... my plan will probably be 2 30 mile rides during the week and a longer one on the weekend .... then try and up it in order to go longer the following weekend and stretch out the time to do it in. Really want to get that 50 miler in ...... my legs do not hurt while riding but my knee (the trashed one) will get a tad sore at the end of longer efforts. I am super good at listening to my body as a veteran of riding/lifting and hurting myself lol ...... hopefully a tweak I have planned to my riding set up will help as well.
During the week, to save time, I frequently just hit my resistance rollers for an hour. Quicker to do that because of clothing and gear and easier to get the exact workout I want.
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Old 05-29-21, 09:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Rdmonster69 View Post
Lots of good advice to contemplate in this thread. I wish I had 5 days in a week to ride ....
That's going to make it hard, unless you are doing other activities (ie gym strengthening workouts) to get those legs into better shape for such strains.

Can take quite awhile to re-make one's muscles into hard-charging units, if having been out of it for awhile or stepping up to another level.

Back in the day, I was fairly fit and strong. But I began competing regionally in distance running, particularly hill courses. Took a couple of years of very tough workouts and lots of stretching to accomplish the transition, and even then I was still fighting occasional over-work of the muscles for the next year or so. During that era, I had a serious amateur cyclist friend who took me out on some long-ish rides ... at his performance level. Thought I was fit, and I was for running, but good lord did those rides hammer my muscles. Could do 60 miles and more, then. Just not at "serious" levels of effort. After a couple of such hard rides, my muscles were screaming for a couple of days. Had the nutrition, electrolytes, hydration and cardio aspects all covered. But it turned out those muscles that were so tuned for mid-distance performance running in the hills just couldn't cope with the strains that hard cycling demanded of them.

I'd just take it bit slower, dialing down the efforts a bit, work on your leg strength and flexibility in the "offending" (strained) muscles ... and wait for the efforts to pay off. Might be awhile, if your current starting point is showing it's not quite up to snuff (for that level of effort). Be patient, it'll come.
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Old 05-30-21, 11:40 AM
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A significant increase in ambient temperature along with a significant increase in effort usually put me close to cramping up several hours after a ride. I just look at it as telling me to go easier or at least not any harder for a time or two till I get used to the new conditions.

And maybe I'll ask myself if I was hydrating well. Electrolytes play a part too, but not on the basis that if some are good then a lot must be better.
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Old 05-30-21, 01:47 PM
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I swear by muscle rollers, mine looks kinda like this:

https://www.amazon.com/Sportneer-Mas...7QML9CXQ&psc=1
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Old 05-30-21, 05:01 PM
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Best I can do typically is 3 rides a week. Trying for 75-90 mikes a week. Tomorrow will put me at close to 250 for the month which is 1/4 my total on tge road last year. My car accident had caused me to amp it up.

I am also training in the gym on non riding days.I just need to watch nutrition and hydration and listen to my body....and be a bit less gung ho maybe lol.
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Old 05-30-21, 06:01 PM
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When the cramps come, lie way back with your feet in the air and make pedaling motions with your feet up in the air.
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Old 05-30-21, 06:35 PM
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Originally Posted by 2manybikes View Post
When the cramps come, lie way back with your feet in the air and make pedaling motions with your feet up in the air.
Lol !! Is this a serious solution or you pulling my cramping leg 😂😂
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Old 05-31-21, 06:56 AM
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Originally Posted by Rdmonster69 View Post
Lol !! Is this a serious solution or you pulling my cramping leg 😂😂
Totally serious.
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Old 05-31-21, 09:22 AM
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Originally Posted by 2manybikes View Post
When the cramps come, lie way back with your feet in the air and make pedaling motions with your feet up in the air.
Yes. My wife, who's more susceptible to cramping, gets up and walks. Fixes it. On the tandem, she stops pushing on the pedals and just lets her feet go around. That works well on the flat, not so good on climbs. And pickle juice of course. I used to get serious cramps on my single. I'd sort of fall over and roll around in the ditch while little animals ran up and down my legs under the skin. I don't get those anymore because I simply don't go there. Too much damage, takes days to heal.
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Old 05-31-21, 01:21 PM
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If you are trying to up your mileage and the weather warmed up quite a bit, it might be just something you have to endure after a few rides. However if this is a constant thing after a couple weeks of riding, then I don't know what to tell you if it's not meds or poor hydration.
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Old 06-01-21, 07:41 AM
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I have done 2 20+ milers recently and everything seems pretty good cramps wise. I will be doing some longer rides later in the week and will see if I have any issues with that. My messed up leg is feeling and looking way better other than it looks pretty weird with the hardware on one side making it bulge weirdly. Overall cycling I feel like I am close to where I was at the end of last year. Old and slow but riding alot !!
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Old 06-01-21, 10:42 AM
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Well don't go from a 20 miler to a 100 miler and expect to be cramp free. <grin>
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Old 06-01-21, 01:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
Well don't go from a 20 miler to a 100 miler and expect to be cramp free. <grin>
Lol ...... more like a couple of mid 30's later this week. My plan is to several rides of 25-35 miles in the next two weeks and then shoot for 50 miles in about 2 weeks on a weekend when I have time to pace myself and plan it out. One thing for sure is I will do it on a nice long bike path as the chip and tar roads near my house beat then hell out of me !!

I rarely average more than 90 miles in a week due to time constraints so training as above for a big effort will probably help me out and give me a few more weeks to get my busted leg back into shape.
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Old 06-01-21, 04:57 PM
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Originally Posted by Rdmonster69 View Post
Lol ...... more like a couple of mid 30's later this week. My plan is to several rides of 25-35 miles in the next two weeks and then shoot for 50 miles in about 2 weeks on a weekend when I have time to pace myself and plan it out. One thing for sure is I will do it on a nice long bike path as the chip and tar roads near my house beat then hell out of me !!

I rarely average more than 90 miles in a week due to time constraints so training as above for a big effort will probably help me out and give me a few more weeks to get my busted leg back into shape.
The rule is that you can do 1 ride that's as long as your average weekly mileage for the last few weeks, not fast, but doable. That rule seems to have an upper cutoff at about 150 miles/week as long as there's an hour of zone 4-5 in there somewhere. At that point, a 400k should be no great problem if the rider has nutrition and hydration nailed..
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