- Your' Cramp Cures
2 Theories about cramp;
1. It’s due to a lack of electrolytes. This is old, unscientific and the one that everyone thinks is correct.
2. That it is a neuro-muscular fatigue problem. This is new, scientific and the one that no-one has caught on to yet.Posted 7 years ago
preventions: remember to take salty drinks/snacks.
What happens when you sweat?
You sweat out lots of water and a very small amount of salt.
What does this do to your body?
It makes the concentration of salts in your body go UP.
Drinking salty drinks makes this situation worse, not better.
Cramp is much more to do with the nerves and muscles being used in a way that you haven’t trained for, than it is to do with electrolyte concentration.
This information is strangely unpopular with the manufacturers of electrolyte drinks and additives.
Read the link…Posted 7 years ago
As above, it’s becoming pretty clear that cramp is not related to salts or hydration.
The “cure” since it’s probably a neuromuscular issue is either to race/ride at training pace, or to train at race pace and or race cadence, to ensure your muscles can cope with race demands of both strength and endurance.
We see athletes and patients with low sodium levels frequently, they don’t appear to be suffering with cramp, we know from some studies that adding sodium in the form of salt to sports drinks make little or no difference to plasma sodium levels, drink too much of anything and sodium levels drop. As noted above, “this information is strangely unpopular with the manufacturers of electrolyte drinks and additives.” 🙂Posted 7 years agobeejSubscriber
I generally get cramp when I’ve been riding too hard for too long. It’s in the muscles that get used a lot when I’m riding – hamstrings, calfs (calves?). On these occasions I’ve been using energy drink with electrolytes for several hours. I don’t get cramp in muscles that aren’t being used.
Solution – train more before, or ride less/easier.Posted 7 years ago
more like 20 years of trying stuff out…
Got you beat by 10 years….
The only time I cramped was at the end of road races; when my muscles were understandably fatigued. I tried the electrolyte drinks and still cramped, I tried quinine, and still cramped.
I did more racing and more training and it went away.
Cramp = needing more salts is a myth, an old cycling wives tale and a very pervasive and persuasive advertising strategy. It’s also wrong.Posted 7 years agoboxfishMember
The last time I had cramp, it was 2am and I was dealing with a very ill 18 month old whom I could only settle by having her sleep on my chest. She woke up, vomited all over me and so I thought “Oh well, best just carry her to the bathroom and get cleaned up”. Then the leg cramp set in. Cue me yelping and hopping around in the dark, covered in sick, trying not to drop my daughter.
On a more serious note, I’ve tended to suffer from cramp during sustained periods of exercise, moreso when I haven’t stretched properly in between sessions. (De)Hydration is also possibly a factor as I find cramp is more likely in warmer conditions.Posted 7 years agoahwilesMember
transapp – Member
OK Crikey, I’ll bite.
Why do electrolyte drinks help me prevent cramp then? Naff all to do with marketing, more like 20 years of trying stuff out…
what he said.
crikey – Member
What happens when you sweat?
You sweat out lots of water and a very small amount of salt.
i’m really not sure about this, i’d say my sweat is VERY salty, have you tasted sweat? – it’s like seawater…
and you only need to lose a few grams of salt to feel really quite unwell.
i’m more than happy to accept the neuro-muscular-wotsit angle too, but one of these factors i can control (salt intake), the other factor i cannot control (fitness)Posted 7 years ago
And yet if I’m dehydrated (say I’ve had too much booze the night before, or I’m out sailing and salt water gets into my drink bottles meaning I can’t take on fluids*) I’m prone to cramp up more. Oddly the day before I cold have been doing the same thing, but not cramped.
Not sure I’m getting it yet.
*yes I get the ironyPosted 7 years ago00soppdMember
I won’t get into the whole prevention arguement but I’m keen to read people’s opinion on why sports drinks do appear to work. Placebo?
I only ever get cramp when cycling after about 4 hours, and even then its not everytime. When I ride motorcycle enduros I find I get it either due to fatigue or when I start to push the pace and get myself abit worked up mentally if that makes sense, ie I think the increased stress to push harder brings on the cramp.
Anyhow, my only ‘cure’ and ‘prevention’ all in one is a freezing cold shower for as long as you can bare it, feels amazing afterwards, sort of shocks the muscles and makes them go all tinkly.Posted 7 years agotheotherjonvSubscriber
To prevent cramp – Get fitter. If it was due to an electrolyte imbalance, surely all muscles would be likely to cramp, not just the one(s) you’ve been using most?
I suffer off and on – the fitter I am (less unfit actually) the less likely I am to get it but even the pros get it – just after levels of exertion way beyond what you and I are used to.
Worst cramp I got was in a theatre the evening after a big event – I got that hamstring sort of cramp that means you yelp and have to either stick your leg straight out to stretch it, or hop about and wait for it to pass. Neither are particularly acceptable in a theatre setting, i can tell you. I know that because shortly after finding out that stretching your leg out into the footwell of the couple beside you gets a Paddington stare in return, I opted for the hopping about when inevitably I got the same in my other leg 5 minutes later.Posted 7 years ago
All I can say is read the link above.
Cramp by electrolyte loss doesn’t work in a scientific way, so it’s reasonable to assume it’s something else, and the best something else is neuro-muscular fatigue.
It’s been such a well-known relationship for so long that I’m not surprised that so many people think it’s true, but really, it’s not.Posted 7 years agoThe Sanity AssassinSubscriber
Crikey – fair play to you for sticking to your guns regarding the above link, but how do you explain all the anecdotal evidence that salt/electrolyte intake actually DOES help people (myself included). The only product that I’ve tried that both prevents and cures my foot/calf/upper leg cramps is nuun. To me at least, they’re fantastic.Posted 7 years ago
Others have found their own salvation in different salt/electrolyte products, yet you seem to disregard what they’re saying? Maybe they work in a different way to that in which they’re marketed, but if they DO work (which IME nuun does) then, quite frankly, I don’t honestly care how. You appear to be berating people for having a closed mind on the subject, yet that’s exactly the attitude that you yourself are displaying.
But the link above is not peer reviewed research. The whole artical is purely to support a hypothesis that’s laid out at the start. What I see is specific research that support the hypothesis selected, and I bet there are others that don’t which have been ignored. Ironic given the whole chess board analogy. I’d be more swayed by something like Cochrane Institute research.Posted 7 years ago
I personally find that being better hydrated gives me less cramps. Maybe it’s in the head, I don’t know. What I will do is now have a chat to the bloke who’s a dietitian for the British sailing team and the Modern Pentathalon and see what his thinking is.
What I think the drinks do, is allow the body to absorb the water faster to keep hydrated. I’m certain that no one is going to argue that keeping hydrated has some benefits!jonbaMember
Crikey, I believe you. Been seeing stuff like this for about a year now as it is becoming more common knowledge. But you have to fight peoples desire to believe that by drinking X while they ride it will make them better.
So my personal cramp prevention technique is a generally all round healthy diet with plenty of fluids leading up to a race but most importantly – pacing during the race. My cramp cure lies in the nose of my saddle/stretching and some rule 5.
HAving said that, my lighter wheels did make me faster 😉Posted 7 years ago
I’m sure that in most cases cramp is likely to be due to muscle overload but surely some evidence exists that sodium deficit brought on by excessive sweating contributes to cramp? This view can’t have been invented by sports drinks manufacturers eager to sell us their wares, I’m sure some evidence exists but they’ve overplayed it to sell to every Tom, Dick and Harry.Posted 7 years ago
I think the incidence of cramp is unpredictable and therefore the use of lotions and potions to prevent it is similarly hit and miss.
I think that the recieved wisdom that salt/electrolytes prevents cramp is so ingrained in cycling folklore that people attribute cramp avoidance to their choice of drink without thinking about it.
To be honest, I suspect that as people get to the point they are doing enough exercise to cramp, then they start to use products to prevent it, but continue to train and exercise and I think that is what prevents the cramp rather than the stuff they are taking.
I don’t like being the poster boy for this, but the article struck me as well thought out, well researched and it fitted with my experience over the years so well.Posted 7 years ago
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