Some things to do if you experience cramps while on the bike

If you experience cramps, a shotgun approach usually works best (also see Chris Carmichaels article in September 2013 issue of Road Bike Action).

  1. Reduce your intensity, keep your cadence consistent, and maintain good form.
  2. Stretch and massage the muscles, stand up and try to change your position. Putting the muscles on more stretch sometimes alleviates cramps. Also shaking your legs while seated is popular and can help. Even hit your muscles with your hand.
  3. Drink and eat as much as possible. Drink an entire bottle if possible
  4. If you feel twitches coming on, consume a bottle of fluids (0.5L) and a teaspoon of salt (3 grams) or equivalent salt tablets. Remember, any local 7-Eleven store has free salt packets.
  5. Pour water over your head and neck, cool your body down.
  6. If you have salt tablets/packets, consume them promptly.
  7. If you are not in a race situation, slow down and focus on getting yourself together and you should make it home. If your muscles seize to the point you cannot pedal the bike, then stop and ask someone to help you. You may need a ride home at this point. Tearing your muscles is not worth it.

The treatment of cramps should be taken individually. The best chances to avoid muscle cramps is to take care of the body. It’s clear that athletes should approach hydration and electrolyte replacement from following a strategy based on experimenting what works for your own particular exercise habits and body, using scientific knowledge, and learning to understand sensations of thirst is the best way to discover what works for you. Fight hard and be patient to search out the causes, don’t give up.  And when you find what works, stick with it and stay consistent.

 

List of possible factors related to muscle cramps

Decreased electrolytes (sodium, potassium, magnesium)

Increase sweating

Going harder than you are used to

Being taller and heavier

History of ligament or tendon injury

Nerve fatigue

Structural abnormalities such as foot deformity

Medications such as Albuterol and cholesterol lowering drugs called statins

Red Rice Yeast – plant supplement

Genetic

Peripheral vascular disease