Does anyone else suffer from leg cramps after a day in the saddle? Always seems to hit me when I am zipped up in sleeping bag and tent. Any suggestions for avoiding or dealing with leg cramps would be appreciated.
Cramps are one of the many mysteries of medicine. Reasons for them are not 100% clear and so methods of avoiding them aren't 100% certain. However, the current view is to take on lots of water before during and after excercise, and to replenish the salts you lose through exertion. These aren't just table salt, but exactly what they are I've no idea. Rehydration tablets should do the job, or you can search out some recipes for homemade ones. So essentially diet and water should save you from the problem.
Yes, I suffer quite badly, especially post exercise, usually middle of the night. My calves (calfes, calf's?) especially. Had an attack last night at 3.30 am. Very painful legs this morning. Can't really offer any advice other than to keep hydrated and electrolyted.
My reason may be that my body doesn't take up salts & electrolytes as well as normal people so I have come to expect this to a degree. And as Arch said the Potassium in Bananas is supposed to be good.
A massage from the wife always works wonders. But she would probably balk if asked to come camping.
Yes , I get them now and again. When I used to paddle whitewater regularly 15 years ago , after playing on a rapid for 3 or 4 hours my forearms would go into spasm and they would have to be rubbed until they unlocked. Then when I got back into cycling I would occasionally get cramps in my calf which could be eased with rubbing and stretching. . But all this is nothing compared to the mother of all cramps that I started getting about 3 years ago.
They come in the evening or early hours but never in the day. Sometimes after cycling ,sometimes not. Brought on by movement. Just getting up off the floor or if I raise my knee towards my chest. What defines these cramps though, is their intensity. Always in the inner thigh, sometimes both, the sheer level of pain is many times worse than any cramp I have ever felt. They last about 7 to 10 minutes and nothing you do can ease them. The first time it happened my wife wanted to phone an amulance, it was that bad . "Don't be soft , you can't call an ambulance for cramp" I said... 7 minutes later, if I'd had an axe, I would have chopped the bloody thing off myself to get away from it! I am not ashamed to say that for the fist time since I was a little boy I cried in pain.
Next day, off to the Doctor who didn't seem to understand just how different these were from normal cramps and seemed to think I was being a bit of a baby.
Back home I Googled " inner thigh pain", which is perhaps what I should have done in the fist place. Turns out it is a not very common, but well known phenominum. ( Just not known by GPs obviously).
I found a US health forum with quite a few people who suffered with this. One woman who experienced them regularly described the pain as worse than the two times she went through childbirth ( This at least made me feel a bit better about the blubbing)
So ...turns out youv'e got to stay hydrated, get enough salt and watch out for one coming on. If I can straighten my leg in the first second of one starting I might just get away with it, otherwisw ,forget it.
Anyway, the point of this lenghty tome is...does anybody else get these?
That does sound very severe and nasty case of the cramps Ste!
But in general, cramps are most commonly caused by insufficiently replacing the salts and electrolytes you sweat out during exercise. So if you suffer from cramps make sure you not only drink lots of water but also replace your salts. Sports drinks (eg. lucozade) are great way to do this.
I actually did my masters dissertation on a subject very similar to this and the importance of maintaining a good sodium (salt) balance whilst exercising is crucial. Not only will it help prevent cramps, but it can also help keep your heart rate and temperature steady and increase the time you can exercise for.
Does not sound like salt cramps - sounds more like the sort of random cramps I get after a good days hard touring - supposedly drinking tonic water helps - quinine - never managed to do it myself - not fond enough of tonic to drink it every night as a pallative - I find that if I am careful arranging my limbs (get to know what combinations bring it on) they tend not to occour so much after the first ten days
salt cramps are easy to diagnose - usually calves and it has been very hot - and occour while excersing - very rare that I have ever had them due to cycling - eating normally - cheese etc provides enough salt in the diet - if suceptible then a packet of crisps should have enough salt to sort them out - apart from hypertension if force feeding salt there is the risk of kidney stones - very common among people I worked with in the middle east when the vogue was to take salt tablets
It seems that a lot of suffer.
Stretch before and after rides or stop and stretch if they happen during ride to alleviate pains.
Cramps can really be debilitating. I had a cramp come on last weekend. I ended up on the kitchen floor trying to stretch me thigh muscle (not an easy position to be in).
I've had cramps at various times usually towards the ends of rides and the only answer is to stretch it out (at the time). Salt in your water might help but don't taste nice.
I have added salt to squash to get rid of taste and not cramps.
Experiment a little.
a glass of milk before bed might help. calcium tend to relax muscles. or a shot of whisky might before bed.....i put salt in my drinks when cycling on a hot day.....i drink a lot of water to keep me hydrated....in my experience i know if im well hydrated if my pee is easy to pass and not concentrated.....elcetrolyte imbalance is usually the culprit on cramps....
calcium relaxes muscles? It is vital for muscle contraction at the molecular level so can't see a glass of milk doing much, esp as are bones are a huge store of the stuff. I do like milk though - it turneth little calf into big cow so must be pretty good for you!
When I am on tour my handlebar bag has salty treats (typically salted peanuts or almonds) and dried fruit (such as raisins or plums) depending on what is locally available. Whenever I have a rest or water stop I nibble away. I have a water bottle mounted on my handlebars to remind me to hydrate myself often (usually my biggest problem). As one who has been a chronic sufferer from cramps - this combination seems to work for me. For dinner I have lots of veggies and a little meat where it may be in a stew or soup.
Andrew suffers from cramps on tour more than I do. We found that stretching helped. Once we set up our tent and stopped for the day, we'd make a special effort to spend 10 minutes or so just stretching out our muscles. That plus lots of water... make sure you are getting enough throughout the day while you're cycling.