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Fatt_Tones

Muscle Cramps When Riding?

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After riding for a while (typically on hotter days) I have been getting muscle cramps that are unbearable and force me to stop.  This has only started happening to me the last two riding seasons (45 years old).   It doesn't seem to matter how much nor how much in advance I hydrate in preparation for riding.  The cramps are mostly in my lats, triceps and hamstrings.  I am wondering if the fun of riding masks how physically exerting riding really is and if I'm pushing myself a LOT more than I realize.  When I come in off the track to rest, my base layer is typically saturated, and at times I am actually breathing heavy when I first stop.....and come to think of it I tend to rarely ever urinate during ridess, despite sometimes drinking a gallon or more of water the day of and day before riding.  I have even tried electrolyte replacement drinks to no avail.

 

Is it a simple matter of knowing when to stop and better recognize the signs of heat exhaustion?  Or are there further measures I can take to be able to ride longer and push harder?  Just wondering if anyone else here has been experiencing this?

 

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Have you tried adding potassium supplements to your regimen?  I used to get terrible charlie horses and cramping, especially after riding.  All that changed for me when I starting taking potassium everyday.  500mg on a regular day and then double that two days prior until a day after riding.  Outside of sleeping on an arm the wrong way, I haven't had cramps to speak of since. 

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3 hours ago, Donny18 said:

Have you tried adding potassium supplements to your regimen?  I used to get terrible charlie horses and cramping, especially after riding.  All that changed for me when I starting taking potassium everyday.  500mg on a regular day and then double that two days prior until a day after riding.  Outside of sleeping on an arm the wrong way, I haven't had cramps to speak of since. 

 

Thank you :thumbsup:  It's so bad I'm really willing to try anything because other than more carefully managing my energy expenditure, I'm fresh out of ideas.  I have the fitness, endurance, nutrition....no drugs/smoke/booze, etc...  Just these darn cramps that up until 2 years ago I have never experienced.   I have two motos Sunday, but it's calling for 18*C (64*F) and overcast....so might not be too bad.

 

Edited by Fatt_Tones

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When I ride my MTB long or very hard, I often cramp about an hour after the ride is over. Since I have been staying hydrated and take magnesium, potassium and calcium, the cramps have pretty much gone away. I do know that it isn't one of those listed that relieves the cramps, I think some days it's one or the other, so I just take them all.

Hydration is the most important, if you are not peeing when riding, you might be dehydrated. Overly yellow urine is also a sign of dehydration.

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3 hours ago, Donny18 said:

Have you tried adding potassium supplements to your regimen?  I used to get terrible charlie horses and cramping, especially after riding.  All that changed for me when I starting taking potassium everyday.  500mg on a regular day and then double that two days prior until a day after riding.  Outside of sleeping on an arm the wrong way, I haven't had cramps to speak of since. 

And/or magnesium and calcium... 

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56 minutes ago, Fatt_Tones said:

 

Also, is it possible to have normal potassium levels, yet have low potassium when pushing in heat?  I have regular blood work and this has never shown up.

I would think so, just like blood sugar.  Your body can't create it, so you need to ensure that you get enough.  Potassium does a few things.  Not only does it help to push lactic acid out of your body (fight cramps) but it also pulls sodium out of your bloodstream and support heart function.  I'm not a dietary nutritionist, but I did graduate from culinary school and did work in a hospital for a time creating specific meals in accordance with patients needs and restrictions, so I've worked with a few.  I also learned a lot as my grandmother (thankfully still with us) has kidney disease, so too much potassium can be fatal for her.  Needless to say, I worked on her diet as well.

Do you use a fitbit or some sort of tracking app like My Fitness Pal?  FDA recommends 3,500mg's a day and you'd be surprised, but most people never get close to that.  Partly because most people are on the takeout diet and partly because the FDA has not made it mandatory for nutrition labels to show potassium.  It's only recommended that they do.  For example, the misconception is that bananas have a ton of potassium (115mg) but actually spinach has much more per serving (400mg).

As some others have mentioned, magnesium and calcium will play a role as well.  You can get decent doses of all three in a simple serving of nuts.  Almonds are the best route.

If you do decide to add potassium to your diet, do not get discouraged if cramps still come within a week or two.  It does take time to get most vitamin levels up.  Give it a month or two and you should see a difference.  If I may, I would also suggest looking into using glutamine post race.  That will assist in pushing out lactic acid as well.  Also, right after you finish and before your body cools down, definitely stretch out if you don't do so already. 

Sorry for the info dump, I've just done a ton of research on it since it used to kick my butt.

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40 minutes ago, Donny18 said:

 

I would think so, just like blood sugar.  Your body can't create it, so you need to ensure that you get enough.  Potassium does a few things.  Not only does it help to push lactic acid out of your body (fight cramps) but it also pulls sodium out of your bloodstream and support heart function.  I'm not a dietary nutritionist, but I did graduate from culinary school and did work in a hospital for a time creating specific meals in accordance with patients needs and restrictions, so I've worked with a few.  I also learned a lot as my grandmother (thankfully still with us) has kidney disease, so too much potassium can be fatal for her.  Needless to say, I worked on her diet as well.

Do you use a fitbit or some sort of tracking app like My Fitness Pal?  FDA recommends 3,500mg's a day and you'd be surprised, but most people never get close to that.  Partly because most people are on the takeout diet and partly because the FDA has not made it mandatory for nutrition labels to show potassium.  It's only recommended that they do.  For example, the misconception is that bananas have a ton of potassium (115mg) but actually spinach has much more per serving (400mg).

As some others have mentioned, magnesium and calcium will play a role as well.  You can get decent doses of all three in a simple serving of nuts.  Almonds are the best route.

If you do decide to add potassium to your diet, do not get discouraged if cramps still come within a week or two.  It does take time to get most vitamin levels up.  Give it a month or two and you should see a difference.  If I may, I would also suggest looking into using glutamine post race.  That will assist in pushing out lactic acid as well.  Also, right after you finish and before your body cools down, definitely stretch out if you don't do so already. 

Sorry for the info dump, I've just done a ton of research on it since it used to kick my butt.

 

Thank you for the thoughtful reply :thumbsup: 

 

I did use My Fitness Pal once upon a time, but these days I just eat macros and portion quality whole foods, lean protein, etc...  I do recall it was interesting seeing the micro-nutrient count on most days.

 

It's really interesting some of the things you mention.  I have been discussing this with my wife and had her read the thread also.  She always has reservations about me taking certain vitamins/supplements due to me having Hypertrophic Cardio Myopathy.  She suggested snacking more on Pistachios and spinach :)

 

I will give careful thought to the mineral supplements and for the rest of this week I am going to incorporate more of the foods mentioned here, step up my water intake, limit my activity (going to try to ride 2 motos tomorrow, but no training between now and Sunday), and will drink electrolytes on race day.

 

 

 

Edited by Fatt_Tones
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13 hours ago, Fatt_Tones said:

It's really interesting some of the things you mention.  I have been discussing this with my wife and had her read the thread also.  She always has reservations about me taking certain vitamins/supplements due to me having Hypertrophic Cardio Myopathy.  She suggested snacking more on Pistachios and spinach :)

Absolutely.  Don't just take my word for it.  ALWAYS consult your doctor when it comes to taking any supplements (as I have done so for myself).  Although, barring any specific dietary needs (like I mentioned about my grandmother above) I cannot see a doctor telling you that eating nuts and fresh fruits and vegetables such as almonds, spinach, and pistachios is a bad thing 😉.  The only bad thing is that those darn pistachios are so good it's hard to put the bag down.

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So yesterday I got off nights at 5:30 am and slept until 1:00pm (managed 3 hours of sleep at work also...lol).  So went to the track at 4:00pm and did some warm up laps, some drills, then rode a 12 minute + 1 lap moto at 80-90% of race pace.  Paid VERY close attention to what my body was telling me and took a lot more rest and cool downs than I’m used to.  I even dressed down a bit during my breaks which I tend never to do.  Drank lots of water and electrolytes.  I also drank a few extra litres of water than normal at work the night before.   Had zero cramping I’m happy to report.

 

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This morning I went out for a 12km jog and again felt great.

 

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So today I picked up some more electrolytes (but a different brand) which it turns out the main ingredients are the minerals mentioned in this thread.  They had a 30% off second item promotion, so decided to try some glutamine.

 

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Going to mainly rest now until race day (Sunday), hydrate, and eat clean.

 

 

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Why not take a high quality (not cheap shit sold in pharmacies) vitamin/mineral supplement daily? (make sure its calcium is not hard-to-assimilate calcium carbonate)

ps- you lose minerals with sweat

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Guys are carrying mustard packets to head off cramps. I brought some in a hard enduro hare and hounds that took 7 hours to finish. I was ok with the electrolyte mix . In my pack so I gave the mustard packets to a guy that was cramping bad in the race. It actually worked great and he got better and stopped cramping.. we rode about 3 more hours and we finished together. We were so happy. It was brutal.. I have used a variety of electrolyte mixes and those help.. been using the On amino acid mix from Costco too. That’s pretty good. Im a heart patient and a diabetic so I watch myself carefully..Of course it’s better to err on the higher sugar level on the hard enduro type races..  Search up as there are more threads here on cramping etc. Use google to search and Thumpertalk in the search. You get better results.

I forgot who that guy was in the race that I shared the mustard packets with but he was so thankful and appreciative that I shared with him. He would have had to pull out of the race. We were stoked that we finished.I remember he was a Filipino guy with a kx250.  He passed me fast easy 3 times and crashed spectacularly each time and I passed him each time back. I stopped to check if he was alright each time. The last crash I just asked him if he wanted to ride with me and maybe we could help each other if need be in the hard sections. We both rode fine the rest of the way except for his cramping. I gotta go back and look at the results and see if I can figure out his name..

Edited by hawaiidirtrider
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Yesterday I signed up for two classes and thus had to race 4 motos.  I began hydrating hard 2-3 days before, did little to no training on those days.  Drank lots of water and electrolytes the day of, and happy to report no cramping :thumbsup:

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