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  1. #1
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    How to prevent leg cramp in endurance race?

    One of my biggest weaknesses in endurance race is leg cramp. It almost happen without fail in all long and torturous rides. What should I do to prevent (or minimize) leg cramp? Any specific training or exercise can help? Any diet or food can help? Thanks!

  2. #2
    renaissance cyclist
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    Obviously you need to stay hydrated and fueled. There is, however, no magic bullet. Cramps happen when you push the limits of your endurance and fitness. The best way to avoid them, is to expand those limits.

  3. #3
    Gumnut Peddler
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    Make sure you have enough sodium in your diet and drink plenty of water. During a race if I feel the lactic acid start to build up I always drop the pace a little to get it under control. If you can't drop pace, try a quick back pedal on the downhills. something as quick as that helps me heaps. not too sure how or if it works for everyone, but it couldn't hurt to try.

    hydration and salt/electrolytes are the main bits to cover for cramp prevention.

  4. #4
    gran jefe
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    sodium, potassium, and magnesium are what i have heard suggested as keys.

  5. #5
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    The problem is that nobody knows what really causes cramps. There are certainly dietary things that can help, but I suspect real answer is that there are many different causes of cramps. What works for me might be useless for you.

    One thing that's worked for me that I don't often see mentioned is avoiding hard efforts early on. Not so much long sustained efforts, but those short sharp bursts of power. (i.e. cranking up a small hill, etc... ) The kind of stuff you'd normally just hammer through for ten pedal strokes on a regular ride.

    My half-baked theory is that it's kinda like weight lifting, you've only got so many pedal strokes above a certain force, but you have essentially an infinite number under that level of force.

    Heat also plays a part in it for me, seems like no matter what I do if the temps are high, cramps are on the menu. Learning to recognize the onset and taking some kind of action to limit them are the strategies that work for me.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by chris9888 View Post
    One of my biggest weaknesses in endurance race is leg cramp. It almost happen without fail in all long and torturous rides. What should I do to prevent (or minimize) leg cramp? Any specific training or exercise can help? Any diet or food can help? Thanks!
    Nutrition is key.....taking pills before the ride is not nutrition....

    Training is also key.....you have to learn the long easy ride.....with intervals....

    Finally headspace is key....ride within your limits.....no point cramping if backing off for the first three hours puts you ahead for the last 3 hours.

  7. #7
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    In addition to what has already been written, my confidence in long rides and hot months does very well with SaltStick Capsules - Key Features and Ultima Replenisher. Have not had a cramp in the past year or so when combining proper hydration, rest, fuel and training.

  8. #8
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    tailwind nutrition

  9. #9
    Cheesiest
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    Strangely, I've heard coconut juice can help. I suppose it's the electrolytes, but maybe another component

  10. #10
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    Thanks for all comments.

    My riding buddy gave me ZERO, will it help? Has anyone tried it?

  11. #11
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    Liter of Tonic Water the day b4 and a liter mixed in drinks/bottles you consume over period of race...9hrs/12hrs

  12. #12
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    Never tried ZERO but Hammer Endurolytes work for me. I may still get that pre-cramp tinge in longer events but so far they have prevented full-on cramping. Take a few before and each hour during the event, works for me.

  13. #13
    a.k.a. MTBMaven
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    Avoiding hard efforts has been mentioned but what does that mean for YOU? Each has their own measure of what that means. I would recommend researching Lactate Threshold and conducting your own self test. Note you will need a heart rate monitor.

    The simple story is that Lactate Threshold is the point at which the body goes from aerobic to anaerobic, and the body will produce more lactic acid than it can process. The excess lactic acid will build up in your muscles and lead to cramping.

    As I understand it one cannot really change their threshold through training. However through training (especially high intensity training) you increase your ability to perform at lower heart rates thus you can go faster/harder below your threshold.

    Also mentioned is hydration and nutrition. You need to stay hydrated by drinking between 20-30ozs per hour, and depending on who you are, the temp, how much you sweat, how salty your sweat is.
    Electrolytes are key for anything more than about 2. Amount of electrolytes is really a personal thing I find and is based on the same factors as water.

    Calories are your next consideration. Your body can only process 200-300 calories per hour. This doesn't sound like much (especially when you consider how much we consume sitting on the couch watching tv) but is surprisingly hard to do during an endurance event.

    I suffer from cramps pretty easily but have found the information above to help tremendously. The information was gained from reading Hammer Nutrition's website, the Ultra Marathon Cycling Association site, and forum posts here and on road biking sites.

    I used to use Hammer products almost exclusively but now much prefer my custom blend from Infinit Nutrition. If I feel cramping coming on I find the following things help: V8, potatoes, pickle juice. I did a 16 hour solo double century last weekend and at two SAG stops drank pickle juice to help with cramping. I generally carry small cans of V8 on mountain and road rides. Target sells a 6 pack of the small cans.
    Last edited by mtnfiend; 10-20-2012 at 01:07 PM.
    I thought of that while riding my bicycle. ~ Albert Einstein on the theory of relativity

  14. #14
    Always Learning
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtnfiend View Post
    I suffer from craps pretty easily....

  15. #15
    a.k.a. MTBMaven
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    Quote Originally Posted by BruceBrown View Post
    Nice catch. Edit made. I was typing on my phone.
    I thought of that while riding my bicycle. ~ Albert Einstein on the theory of relativity

  16. #16
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    Here's something that will help you it works for 2 of my buddies that are roadies, and it's free. Go to any fast food joint and grab a handful of mustard packets. I don't suffer from cramping but my 2 friends uses it when they start to feel an onset. Hope it works for you too. Or you can have a jar of pickle

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dirthugger View Post
    Or you can have a jar of pickle
    Pickles are magic, plus most gas stations have them so they are easy to find where ever you are.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dirthugger View Post
    Here's something that will help you it works for 2 of my buddies that are roadies, and it's free. Go to any fast food joint and grab a handful of mustard packets. I don't suffer from cramping but my 2 friends uses it when they start to feel an onset. Hope it works for you too. Or you can have a jar of pickle


    Wurd...


    I used to use them lots when I was a marthonner and Tri guy.



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  19. #19
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    I've been around the block on this issue, as I'm genetically "favored" for cramping.

    My best solution is that offered by debusama. More, harder, longer training rides.

    Second best is Elete electrolyte in my bottles -- recommended by a badass friend of mine who has seen a lot of time in hot, dry sandy areas.

    The pickles/mustard solution has always intrigued me, but I've never tried it. I suspect it must be the vinegar. so maybe a nice salad with Italian dressing at an aid station?

    One thing I know for sure is that when cramps come (always mile 70 - 85 for me), riding
    through them is MUCH better for me than stopping.
    The drive towards achievement and success is the motive power of civilization.

  20. #20
    a.k.a. MTBMaven
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    Elite Water is a great product I have used that with good success in the past. The cost of Infinit is starting to get to rack up so I might get some Elite Water again.

    I've also heard it's the vinegar in pickle juice that does the trick. Basically straight vinegar is all you need but it's not all that palatable.
    I thought of that while riding my bicycle. ~ Albert Einstein on the theory of relativity

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