Cramping

DMan

alid sinistra oliva
Thoughts from the brain trust. I have an issue with cramping well before I'm "tired". Isn't normally a problem on rides less than 30km which are the majority of my mtb ride lengths. Mainly over longer events such as 4hrs etc. So due to the upcoming Port to Port I've been clocking up longer kms, time in the saddle and climbing. 50% road and 50% mtb as that's all the time I have. About a month ago my wife and I did a 4.5hr ride of about 60km and 1500m vert m and I felt strong, so was feeling confident. Then 2 ish weeks ago I did a 4hr. The pace was quite gentle as my wife was doing the 24hr solo so she was leading. 40km in I started to twinge. 48km I cramped big time in my left hamstring. Took about 10 minutes to get it to finally stop cramping. The day was about 28c and I had drunk 1L of maximus and 1L of water the night before. Before starting the ride I had drunk about 500ml of maximus and 500ml of water. Up to the point of cramping I had drunk about 900ml of Infinite. Now I had had a bad week with migraines all week and over the 5 days before had taken about 10 Nurofen plus and 4 Panadol Forte and lots of nurofen and panadol in between. I'm throwing that in as it may be important I don't know? I wasn't sweating a lot as the pace wasn't hard as I've said. Any ideas of things to try or could the drugs have affected my hydration? I'm bad at stretching but working on it. But I rarely stretch before a ride. Could stretching be my main issue?
 
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tkdbboy

Likes Dirt
Looking at the ingredients of Maximus, its mostly just sugar. (Gatorade and Powerade are similar culprits)
Can I ask what you're trying to achieve drinking 1L of Maximus the night before?

Also I assume the Infinite drink you mention is Infinit: Go Far?
The ingredients on this look better in this. Each serving recommends 600ml , so did you have 1.5 servings? or 1 serving with an extra 300ml water?

What and how long did you eat before the ride?


I used to have cramping issues in my quads with moderately pedally rides (2.5 hours in) and full day shuttle days (Maydena).
I've found that good stretching helps a lot. If you have a roller then thats a bonus.
Most of all was increasing my magnesium pre ride. Having that with my usual half serve of pre-workout about 20 mins before my ride and 1.5 - 2 hours after breakfast worked well for me.
Recently I discovered Trace Minerals Research, Electrolyte Stamina, PowerPak which is small portable sachets with a lot of magnesium and other goodies. Convenient when it comes to travelling.
 

Minlak

Kink of the mountain
Start stretching and ditch infinite and all those sugary electrolyte replacements. Start taking a multi vitamin every day as well
 

DMan

alid sinistra oliva
Looking at the ingredients of Maximus, its mostly just sugar. (Gatorade and Powerade are similar culprits)
Can I ask what you're trying to achieve drinking 1L of Maximus the night before?

Also I assume the Infinite drink you mention is Infinit: Go Far?
The ingredients on this look better in this. Each serving recommends 600ml , so did you have 1.5 servings? or 1 serving with an extra 300ml water?

What and how long did you eat before the ride?


I used to have cramping issues in my quads with moderately pedally rides (2.5 hours in) and full day shuttle days (Maydena).
I've found that good stretching helps a lot. If you have a roller then thats a bonus.
Most of all was increasing my magnesium pre ride. Having that with my usual half serve of pre-workout about 20 mins before my ride and 1.5 - 2 hours after breakfast worked well for me.
Recently I discovered Trace Minerals Research, Electrolyte Stamina, PowerPak which is small portable sachets with a lot of magnesium and other goodies. Convenient when it comes to travelling.
Maximus is mainly sugar that's true with a little magnesium. Really just for a bit of energy and to get the fluid levels up. I had it mixed 50% with water.
And yes, it's Infinit sorry, the GoFar formula. I run a 900ml bottle so I had 1.5 servings in the bottle. I probably should have started drinking in the morning too though instead of maximus. I ate breakfast about 4 hrs before the ride which I think was a bacon and egg roll and had a skratch bar and a banana about 30 minutes before?
I've tried different mag supplements and never had much luck. I've tried the Endura Cramp formula as my goto in my drink bottle and used various Mag pill supplements as a 2 everyday thing to try and increase my mag intake. My wife had bought me some cramp shot type of things to have while on the next ride. I also carry Pickle juice now which I might just start taking before I even get close to starting to cramp. Nothing to lose I guess and I do think they helped when I cramped on the 4hr. I also, for while now, make sure I start drinking after about 20 minutes into the ride. Just regular little sips throughout the ride instead of suddenly realising I'm thirsty and it's too late. I'll definitely try more stretching though.
 

DMan

alid sinistra oliva
Start stretching and ditch infinite and all those sugary electrolyte replacements. Start taking a multi vitamin every day as well
I definitely need the Infinit. Water isn't enough. Done the multi thing for months and it's a waste of money for me anyway. Stretching more, yes!
 

tkdbboy

Likes Dirt
Ditch the Maximus. Most of the goodies in the fluids you load up on the night before, you'll piss out in the morning.

Edit: Looking at the ingredients on Infinit, each serving is 75g of powder, 66g of that being sugar. So you're paying for something that's essentially 88% sugar.

That Endura Max Cramp mix looks like it has a decent amount of magnesium in it. Rather than only getting it in you during the ride via sips, try two servings 30 mins before the ride with your banana and low GI fuel like the Skratch bar.
Also worth snacking on fruit, oats, jelly beans 2 hours into the ride plus the regular water sips as you've mentioned.

Its a long process of trial and error but if you can write down what you ate, and when ... then you might be able to find a pattern if it's nutrition related.

Most of all, if you want to try any supplement, then just read the ingredients list and google anything you don't know.

The spikey roller during stretching definitely helps. Not just roll your legs, but upper/lower back and hip flexors too
 

Daniel Hale

Likes Bikes and Dirt
how many hrs per wk are you averaging? i also have along term cramp issue,was before riding, occasionally as a kid i’d wake up cramping in the middle of the night, was agony
 

DMan

alid sinistra oliva
how many hrs per wk are you averaging? i also have along term cramp issue,was before riding, occasionally as a kid i’d wake up cramping in the middle of the night, was agony

I'm riding about 8-10 hrs a week depending on how the week falls when I have my daughter. I used to get lots of those but at least they've diminished now as my riding has increased. The long rides are still my nemesis...
Ditch the Maximus. Most of the goodies in the fluids you load up on the night before, you'll piss out in the morning.

Edit: Looking at the ingredients on Infinit, each serving is 75g of powder, 66g of that being sugar. So you're paying for something that's essentially 88% sugar.

That Endura Max Cramp mix looks like it has a decent amount of magnesium in it. Rather than only getting it in you during the ride via sips, try two servings 30 mins before the ride with your banana and low GI fuel like the Skratch bar.
Also worth snacking on fruit, oats, jelly beans 2 hours into the ride plus the regular water sips as you've mentioned.

Its a long process of trial and error but if you can write down what you ate, and when ... then you might be able to find a pattern if it's nutrition related.

Most of all, if you want to try any supplement, then just read the ingredients list and google anything you don't know.

The spikey roller during stretching definitely helps. Not just roll your legs, but upper/lower back and hip flexors too
All good advice. I normally do eat during a long ride. Work my way through a banana and a skratch bar. And normally I don't drink Maximus. I normally start drinking Infinit before I start riding instead so maybe that also contributed as there is very little Mag in Maximus.. But I'll definitely start recording things and see what I'm getting through on a ride.
 
Slightly left of field but cramping can occasionally be caused by repetitive overuse of a muscle group, consider adjusting your saddle height/position by a couple of mm and see if you notice a difference. If you're cramping in your quads them you may be able to engage your calves, glutes and hamstrings a bit more to share the work, if all of your leg muscles are cramping then it may point to a hydration issue or just plain pushing too hard without adequate recovery in-between efforts.
 

DMan

alid sinistra oliva
Slightly left of field but cramping can occasionally be caused by repetitive overuse of a muscle group, consider adjusting your saddle height/position by a couple of mm and see if you notice a difference. If you're cramping in your quads them you may be able to engage your calves, glutes and hamstrings a bit more to share the work, if all of your leg muscles are cramping then it may point to a hydration issue or just plain pushing too hard without adequate recovery in-between efforts.
I have been playing with set up. But mainly with seat position not so much height. It's mainly my hamstrings and my left hamstring first. I used to cramp a lot in the thigh, just above the knee, but since using clips I don't seem to have that issue so much. I'm right footed so that's probably a dominance/ strength thing with left being first to go
 

Daniel Hale

Likes Bikes and Dirt
i would have thought 8-10 hrs should be plenty, you getting in a 4-5hr ride with that, or heaps of just 1-1.5hr rides?

afaik if your hamstrings are worrying you your saddle height may be too low -usually lower saddle for lower back pain and or quad problems, if your seat is too low your hamstrings are engaged more, thus needing it to be raised to equalise the work between the hammy's/quads

PS if increasing saddle height your hamstrings will have to be quite flexible, lay on back & pull raised foot forward with resistance band

the other thing i did to help hamstring cramps was to slam my saddle forward - also steepens seat angle which i like for climbing
 

teK--

Eats Squid
I tend to agree re above comments of sugary energy drinks. If you rode 60km/4.5hours/1500mvert then you have a good base fitness. Your next ride was probably just having a bad day.

Things that can help:
-Daily magnesium tablet supplement.

-Stretching and foam rolling the day before and after a big ride. Don't forget hips and glutes which are often neglected. All muscles are interconnected so if you have tightness in one area it overwork another.

-forget the sugary drinks and go with electrolyte additives or tablets instead. Go energy bars if you want but get ones with fibre in them. Preferably snack on wholefoods during a ride.

-500ml to 1000ml water per hour of riding depending on temperature/effort.

- check bike fit. Often people run their saddles too high which causes knee over extension and hip rocking.
 

teK--

Eats Squid
Slightly left of field but cramping can occasionally be caused by repetitive overuse of a muscle group, consider adjusting your saddle height/position by a couple of mm and see if you notice a difference. If you're cramping in your quads them you may be able to engage your calves, glutes and hamstrings a bit more to share the work, if all of your leg muscles are cramping then it may point to a hydration issue or just plain pushing too hard without adequate recovery in-between efforts.
This is a good tip. I alternate standing and seated pedalling as much as I can as it shares the work out to more muscles and it takes longer to get tired.
 

mas2

Likes Dirt
Hope you don't mind me jumping in too.
Ever since playing sport or riding as a kid I have always had leg cramps and if I get really hot then I will get headaches and even migraines. My weekend rides are about 1.5-2 hours and since using powerade my legs feel a lot better and I recover a lot faster than with just water. I tried magnesium tablets and they dont seem to help anywhere near as much.
So surely the sugars do something? Any healthier alternatives to powerade?
 

slider_phil

Likes Bikes and Dirt
-forget the sugary drinks and go with electrolyte additives or tablets instead. Go energy bars if you want but get ones with fibre in them. Preferably snack on wholefoods during a ride.

-500ml to 1000ml water per hour of riding depending on temperature/effort.
.
Any reason why you say fibre? Everything I've read and heard from Pro athletes is to ditch the fibre the night before and day of.

Most energy drinks contain sodium chloride to replenish salt stores from sweat. The problem with that is that we don't need the chloride and excess chloride leads to gastric distress. Try as find an electrolyte mix that contains just sodium.

? Any healthier alternatives to powerade?
Sktratch is one of the better ones. Natural ingredients and all.

I started to cramp towards to the of my last race after a hike a bike section up a steep fireroad. Managed to stave it off but I put it down to lack of sodium replenishment plus hiking a bike (different muscle recruitment. I estimated I'd be done in a touch over 2hrs looking at the course guide (50kms, 800m vert), but they stuffed up and it was actually 1500m of vert and a bit over 3hrs. My nutrition for the day reflected this and I only had a carbohydrate mix on me (2x SIS beta fuel - 100g of carbs in reach bottle) thinking I'd preloaded enough the night before and morning of to be fine without sodium.

Anyway, cramping is one of those things that in all our research we still don't know exactly what causes them. But it seems overuse, hydration and tiredness are major factors. The use of hot sauce or pickle juice is also interesting. The idea is that a cramp is a neuromuscular condition so taking a shot of hot sauce can "distract" or "reset" the neurological pathway.

Anyway, it looks like this could be a once off, but keep track of what you take in during and before a ride and then hopefully you can find a pattern if it does reoccur.

Oh and stay away from Maximus and Powerade . Get some proper hydration mixes!
 

teK--

Eats Squid
Any reason why you say fibre? Everything I've read and heard from Pro athletes is to ditch the fibre the night before and day of.
Having some fibre helps make the energy bar resemble wholefood, which means it is easier on the stomach and doesn't pass through as quickly compared to gels and chewable energy lollies.
 

slider_phil

Likes Bikes and Dirt
Well the whole idea for energy bars is to be easily digestible while working hard. Fibre pumps blood to the stomach to digest that would otherwise be used in your legs. If you're working at a long endurance pace (z2 levels, basically noodling) then real food will be fine. But as soon as you start going race pace you want that refined sugar to quickly replace glycogen. The average person can take in about 100g in an hour (70g glucose/30g fructose) or roughly 400 calories
 

DMan

alid sinistra oliva
Hope you don't mind me jumping in too.
Ever since playing sport or riding as a kid I have always had leg cramps and if I get really hot then I will get headaches and even migraines. My weekend rides are about 1.5-2 hours and since using powerade my legs feel a lot better and I recover a lot faster than with just water. I tried magnesium tablets and they dont seem to help anywhere near as much.
So surely the sugars do something? Any healthier alternatives to powerade?
Sounds a lot like it goes for me too! I've taken a lot of different Mag tablets and none have really helped. But Infinit seems to be good at keeping me going and isn't hard on my stomach
 

mas2

Likes Dirt
Sounds a lot like it goes for me too! I've taken a lot of different Mag tablets and none have really helped. But Infinit seems to be good at keeping me going and isn't hard on my stomach
After riding I always used to have cramps when trying to sleep and one panadol would be enough to get rid of them but now I dont get them at all.
I'll have to give some of the Infinit a go. Is it just from health food shops?
 

Flow-Rider

Wheel size expert
Sounds a lot like it goes for me too! I've taken a lot of different Mag tablets and none have really helped. But Infinit seems to be good at keeping me going and isn't hard on my stomach
What have you tried with the Mag tablets ? You usually need to load up on them for 2 weeks before you notice any difference and that's if they're going to work on you. The foam roller before and after rides also helped me but I don't get them that often these days, Cramps is one thing that there's really no remedy answer to per individual and many times none at all, you just got to keep on trying different things after you've covered all the basic stuff.
 
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