In today's dynamic world of transportation and personal mobility, cycling has gained popularity for both commuting and leisure. Whether you're a co...
Why does cycling cramp? How should I fix it?
Many riders have encountered cramps during cycling. Cramps, scientifically known as muscle spasms, are sudden, involuntary tonic contractions of muscles that cause stiffness and pain. For cyclists, cramps usually occur in the legs, hands, back and neck. In an intense race, once cramps occur, you will have a hard time recovering in a short period of time and your athletic form will be greatly diminished. The true mechanism of cramps is still inconclusive, but we do know that cramps do occur more easily under certain conditions.
Fatigue and overload
The cycle of muscle contraction and relaxation is the basis of our exercise. When our body is extremely fatigued and our muscles are operating at more than our physical limits, cramps tend to occur suddenly and become the last straw that breaks the camel's back. In cycling, for example, if you haven't trained for a long time and suddenly one day you participate in a high-intensity race, you are likely to cramp up because the intensity of the exercise has exceeded your muscle's tolerance limit. Another part of the reason is because in the process of high-intensity exercise, like a small war five scum will be quickly forced into the lactic acid region, as a strong organic acid, lactic acid dissociation to produce hydrogen ions, causing the PH value within the muscle to drop. And the accumulation of hydrogen ions will interfere with the binding of calcium ions to troponin, which interferes with muscle contraction and relaxation, leading to muscle cramps.
Water and electrolytes
The human body is also prone to cramps in a dehydrated state. Water is the body's transport vehicle, and the excitability of the body's nerves has a lot to do with the balance of water and electrolytes in the body. Electrolytes play a key role in muscle signaling, and riders lose a lot of water and electrolytes in their bodies during high-intensity riding, which affects the transmission of muscle nerve signals and leads to persistent muscle cramps during or after exercise. In addition, dehydration will worsen your fatigue level, especially if you are so highly nervous during the race that you forget to hydrate, and your exhausted muscles will teach you a lesson when you get to the second half of the race or the final point of the sprint.
Injuries and cycling settings
If you have regular cramps, you need to consider if there is an underlying injury to your body. For example, ankle strain can limit the range of motion of the joint and make your calves more prone to cramps. Back injuries can also cause leg cramps, so if you experience a similar condition, it's recommended that you go to a regular hospital for a checkup and don't take any chances.
Improper bike setup and riding position is also a trigger for cramps, for example, the saddle height is too low (or too high), the muscles and joints can't stretch (or overstretch) when pedaling, and the blood circulation in the legs is restricted, which will easily trigger cramps, and the angle position of the locking piece is unreasonable, which may also lead to cramps. Therefore, finding an experienced fitter to take your pulse can also help prevent and relieve cramps.
Now that you know the factors that can cause cramps, let's learn how to prevent them and what to do if they occur.
No one wants to get cramps 500 meters before the finish line, and if you are unfortunate enough to get one, even if you grit your teeth and hold on, the pedaling power and rhythm will still be affected, so prevention is the key.
Do a good job of preparation, remember to warm up before you go, do some stretching exercises, so that the body muscles are stretched, some functional leg coverings and functional socks are also advertised to have the effect of preventing cramps.
Timely replenishment of water and electrolytes, there are many good sports drinks, tablets and powders on the market that are worth trying. Reasonable isotonic sports drinks contain carbohydrates and electrolytes, which are easily absorbed and can help maintain the balance of body fluids. Experienced riders will seize the right time to rehydrate, while rookie riders are highly nervous during the race, and there are cases that they dare not reach for the water bottle after the whole race.
Proper energy intake, proper energy intake can keep your muscles running well and help you recover after exercise, here should be the advertisement of US Riding Tesco Energy Gel (click to open). Sports experts recommend that 30-60 grams of carbohydrates should be consumed per hour during exercise, and the combined sweat rate, weather conditions, exercise intensity and dress code, the human body will lose 500-1000 ml of body fluids per hour, perhaps we can't do the same scientific training as professional athletes, but should also pay attention to understand their own physical condition, these details are often the key to winning the race.
Without training, giving you an electric pony is also a waste of time. Consistent long-term training to make your body function as well as possible to adapt to the demands of your sport will help prevent muscle cramps caused by muscle overload.
Experienced fitter and sports physiotherapist worth having, if you are more prone to cramps than others, consider whether there is a physical injury or cycling posture, the cyclist settings out of the question. Compared to your expensive sci-fi smart bike and health for decades to come, the money spent on "software" is definitely worth it.
Dealing with cramps
If you can do all you can already do, but still accidentally hit, the following tips may help you.
When your muscles start to feel different, sore, stiff and a bit uncontrollable, this is a precursor to muscle cramps, and if you don't control them, the severe pain that will follow will break you. Find a position that makes your muscles feel relaxed. If you are confident in your bike control skills, you can do some dynamic stretching on the bike to help relax your muscles, but only if you are safe!
If you feel the need to stop, remember not to sit on your butt on the ground and not get up, this lazy approach will make the muscles tighten even more. Try to stretch in place, walk back and forth for a while, slowly drink some electrolyte drinks, the symptoms of cramps will gradually ease.
If you are riding with a group of friends and cramps occur, do not hide the situation, timely treatment to minimize the pain, the real good friends will stop and wait for you, and those who yell all day long not climbing leisure ride, the key time to abandon the teammates of the guys, let them go to hell.