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When I increase my riding routine I end up getting bad cramps in both my calves and also my thighs and hamstrings. Does anyone have any tips to reduce cramps when your riding gets more serious.

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Do you mean cramping whilst riding or cramping afterwards? –  Amos Aug 27 '10 at 9:56
    
Afterwards, mainly not long after and especially at night –  Andrew Lowe Aug 27 '10 at 10:10
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Patient: Doctor, it hurts when I do this! Doctor: Then don't do that! :) –  Neil Fein Aug 27 '10 at 15:40

3 Answers 3

up vote 7 down vote accepted

I had problems with cramps in my legs after about an hour of exercise. A friend of mine that is a physical therapist said that if you sweat a lot this can cause loss of potassium, calcium, and magnesium. These minerals is used to signal the muscle to flex and relax. I started eating vitamins with these minerals in them. Since then my problems are gone.

Stretching and a good warm up is also important to prevent cramps.

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Don't forget to add solid hydration to the answer above. You should be drinking about 1 litre and hour or fluid. If you loose more than 2 pounds on a ride then you're not drinking enough. –  curtismchale Aug 27 '10 at 14:39
    
+1 for ingesting potassium, -1 for stretching. –  Neil Fein Aug 27 '10 at 15:42
    
@neilfein why -1 for stretching? –  Andrew Lowe Aug 27 '10 at 22:19
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@Andrew -- because, as far as I know, there's no evidence stretching cold muscles actually does anything as opposed to just warming up by simply riding slowly for a mile or so. I recently stopped stretching, and have noticed nothing. The only time I stretch is if I need to start for the day and don't have the option to ride slowly and gently (for example, if I have to start climbing right away). –  Neil Fein Aug 29 '10 at 3:13
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@Andrew I have some problems with my foot that a slow warm up doesn't do much for, as the foot is quite static when biking. To avoid problems I have to start each day with a gentle stretch and massage of these muscles. Since I started doing this the problems is slowly going away. But I can agree with that intensive stretching is not good before the muscles are warm and can cause pain. @curtismchale Word, water is important and easy to forget when it's colder. During the winters I always tend to forget to drink enough. –  Rickard Lindroth Sep 2 '10 at 13:58

I used to get bad cramps after just 25 minutes of riding and found out that it was due to low potassium levels. I'd recommend more bananas and potatoes or a good potassium supplement.

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