Usually, after doing some legs intensive exercise (150 burpees, 2 hours of football) my legs burn and I have problems to fall sleep, and to keep asleep. I'm planning a small bike touring trip, that should last around 7-10 days, covering over 100kms each day. I'm worried that I'll have the same problem every day.

What's a good way of cooling down my muscles? Is using pain-relief sprays a bad idea, because they conceal my muscles' complains? I'm talking about those cooling sprays, I don't know the name in English.

I'm looking for things that I can carry with me on the bike. I also understand that this burning feeling might be a sign that I've overloaded my legs, and that I shouldn't do that for several days.

  • 2
    Stretch after riding. Compression wear (most however don't compress enough to get a physiological benefit). Gentle movements. It's less about "cooling" the muscles and more about helping your muscle purge built up lactate. Pacing is also important, 100km at 65% intensity is far less stressful on muscles than 100km at 80% intensity. It is much easier to recover from the former than the latter.
    – Rider_X
    Jul 31, 2017 at 22:20
  • 2
    I suspect that you are misinterpreting your "leg burn". When you exercise more intensely than you are used to, your muscles swell up. You normally don't notice this as more than a few aches, but in the lower legs you experience a mild form of "compartment syndrome" where an interior "skin" around the muscle prevents it from expanding, resulting in an aching, burning, cramping sensation that begins maybe 4 hours after exercise and lasts 12-24 hours. The only "cure" for this is to either exercise less intensely or "train" your legs to become used to the more intense level of exercise. Jul 31, 2017 at 22:49
  • 1
    A couple of other things that can occur are ketosis and potassium deficiency. Ketosis occurs when you burn up all the available carbs in your body. Usually the first symptom is dizziness, but you might experience some muscle aches, usually during your ride or shortly after. Potassium deficiency can occur on warm days, and the most obvious symptom is agonizing leg cramps. The treatment for this is, believe it or not, potato chips. There are also genetic disorders, particularly "MADD" and "McArdle's Disease", but these are relatively rare. Jul 31, 2017 at 22:56

1 Answer 1


What I usually do to relieve fatigue on legs after long and/or intense cycling is the following:

  • at the end of the shower use the shower faucet directly on both your legs for at least 30 seconds with warm-hot water. Then turn the water to cold and again keep the flow for about 30 seconds. (if you are brave enough and you do not suffer form heart diseases you can do the same on your entire body).

The abrupt change in temperature will help your muscle squeeze out of the cells lactic acid and all the other methabolic residuals.

Alternatively, you can soak in a warm bath for some minutes: I did it during my trip in Japan (cycled up to 120 km/day on hilly roads), and the onsen at the end of the day was really a leisure.

  • 5
    squeeze out of the cells lactic acid and all the other methabolic residuals such claims should come with a reference, preferrably peer-reviewed, no?
    – stijn
    Aug 1, 2017 at 7:26

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.