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Suggestions for chronic calf cramping while riding?(16 posts)

Suggestions for chronic calf cramping while riding?cabinfever
Jul 26, 2002 6:38 AM
A friend (seriously...I would admit to this myself it were me) had an awful problem with his calves cramping on rides. He has about 2500 mile on him this year, and is rediculously fast. He averages about 20 mph on most rides, and that is when he is solo! He is doing a 20+ mile time trial this weekend, and is worried about this cramping. He says he cannot exert himself at more than 80% without cramping. Both he and I drink Cytomax or Gu2O during rides and hydrate constantly. An article he found suggests using magnesium supplements, vitamin B13, and B6. Anybody have the same problem? Suggestions/remedies?
re: Suggestions for chronic calf cramping while riding?jp2
Jul 26, 2002 7:12 AM
check cleat positioning
Thanks. Tried moving cleats back more already. nm.cabinfever
Jul 26, 2002 7:19 AM
Has he tried stretching?cory
Jul 26, 2002 7:38 AM
I used to have the same problem running. The fix turned out to be simple: Whenever you think of it, three or four times a day, do a calf stretch. One easy one is just to stand the appropriate distance from a wall or desk, put your (his) feet flat on the floor and lean forward until you feel what the book calls "a pleasant stretch" in the back of the leg. Hold for 30 seconds & release. Takes awhile and you have to stay with it, but it's easy and it can't hurt anything. Flexibility is always good.
re: Suggestions for chronic calf cramping while riding?hrv
Jul 26, 2002 7:57 AM
Probably too late before the time trial but what helped me was getting a deep tissue massage. Painful at times but mostly eliminated the problem.

re: Suggestions for chronic calf cramping while riding?steve1244
Jul 26, 2002 8:09 AM
I've experienced this same problem. A poster here recommended dropping a pinch of lite salt in each bottle. Lite salt has some potassium, as well as salt in it, to help w/electrolyte replacement and cramping. I tried it, and it seemed to work pretty well. I didn't notice any discernible difference in the way my sports drink (Cytomax) tasted. It's a cheap potential solution, so you may want to tell your friend to try it.
Good suggestion. Is lite salt different from table salt? nm.cabinfever
Jul 26, 2002 8:27 AM
Good suggestion. Is lite salt different from table salt? yesChen2
Jul 26, 2002 9:07 AM
I think Litesalt is a combination of table salt, sodium chlorite, NaCl, and potassium chloride, KCl. What I did was buy "salt substitute" which is all KCl, but a little of that goes a long way. It's bitter. I use about 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of table salt and a sprinkle of KCl in each bottle of Hydra Fuel or Gatoraid (lemon lime flavor). I can go all day on this stuff without upsetting my stomach. This formula has helped me go from horrible cramps to no cramps. Of course there is no substitute for good training and stretching.
Warm up before going to 20+ mph (nm)velocity
Jul 26, 2002 8:41 AM
re: Suggestions for chronic calf cramping while riding?GTDave
Jul 26, 2002 9:03 AM
I have had cramping woes on hard rides too, I have recently been taking 5-6 Tums about a half an hour to an hour before starting. That seems to have fixed the problem which I believe was caused by Calcium depletion. Worked for me.

Endurolyte caps or something similar.dzrider
Jul 26, 2002 9:12 AM
Take a couple the night before and a couple in the morning. I have had a few instances of cramps and none since I started using the Endurolytes. I'll second the warm-up suggestion, too.
Settler's Tums - or anything with calcium PLUS lots of hydration...Brit
Jul 26, 2002 10:25 AM
Works for me.
See a doctor!DrPete
Jul 26, 2002 12:07 PM
I would have a doctor take a look at it. There are some vascular conditions that can cause the problem. Not to say that it's definitely what he has, but sometimes young people with really big leg muscles (like cyclists) can develop a condition called popliteal entrapment, where the muscles in the back of the knee compress the popliteal artery, which feeds the lower leg. It's not the most common thing in the world, but maybe worth checking out. I'll try to dig up more info and post it up here. Still worth having a doc take a look at it, preferably one who has a clue about athletes...
Here's a quick blurb...DrPete
Jul 26, 2002 12:19 PM
This is from the Cecil Textbook of Medicine. Remember, this is a pretty rare condition, but if this has been going on for a long time, I would take this to your doctor and see what he thinks. This is just information! I am telling you to see a doctor. Don't sue me!

Popliteal Artery Entrapment Syndrome

In the popliteal artery entrapment syndrome there is compression of the popliteal artery due to a congenital anatomic abnormality or
an abnormal muscle or fibrous band. The most frequent abnormality is when the medial head of the gastrocnemius muscle compresses the popliteal artery causing medial deviation of the popliteal artery.

The clinical presentation is in a healthy, "athletic type" male complaining of typical claudication symptoms in the absence of premature atherosclerosis. Disappearance of the pulse with passive dorsiflexion of the foot or active plantar foot flexion against resistance may suggest the diagnosis. Duplex ultrasound may help, and computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can confirm the diagnosis; on arteriography, the characteristic finding is a medial deviation of the popliteal artery with post-stenotic dilatation. Other diseases that can cause midpopliteal occlusion include cystic adventitial disease, thrombosed popliteal artery aneurysm, and atherosclerosis of the superficial femoral and popliteal arteries. The primary treatment of popliteal artery entrapment syndrome is surgical.
Move the cleats!High Gear
Jul 26, 2002 5:43 PM
Moving the cleats back toward the heel will most likely solve a recurring calf cramping problem. Start with 3-4 mm then see what happens in a few weeks.
re: Suggestions for chronic calf cramping while riding?il
Jul 28, 2002 4:26 PM
Try eating a banana or two, before and during a ride. I used to get various leg cramps whenever I did a serious ride. None of the cure-alls (Power Bars, GU, Cytomax, Extran, etc) ever did anything to help me. All the Cytomax did was make me want to piss. Then came Banana Therapy. I think I've only suffered one cramp since.