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  1. #1
    Daniel the Dog
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    I never get cramps

    Why do some people get cramps and others seem cramp free?

  2. #2
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    -Genetics
    -They don't have proper nutrition or bike fit.
    -They are pushing themselves past there limit.
    -Tight muscles and a lack of flexibility.

    Pick one from what I understand scientist can't fully explain why are bodies developed the cramp function. It serves no purpose so if you never cramp consider yourself genetically superior.

  3. #3
    BBW
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    Quote Originally Posted by dan4jeepin View Post
    -Genetics
    -They don't have proper nutrition or bike fit.
    -They are pushing themselves past there limit.
    -Tight muscles and a lack of flexibility.

    Pick one from what I understand scientist can't fully explain why are bodies developed the cramp function. It serves no purpose so if you never cramp consider yourself genetically superior.
    ^^^ yep
    to expand a little more..
    -Genetics: things like muscle fibre type (fast or slow-fast twitch are more "fatigueable"); sweat composition (some people like myself are "salty sweaters")
    -Training intensity/duration and exercise intensity/duration (all this also modulated by genetics)
    -Nutrition: pre/during/post hydration and electrolyte ingestion
    -Acclimation: properly getting aclimated to warmer weather

    all in all Jaybo, if you have NEVER had cramps you have never gotten dehydrated or push yourself pass your capabilities! so push harder! (I only get cramps under rare circumstances like being really dehydrated due to lack of water or pushing WAY harder and longer than what I'm trained in that particular moment for); also pushing hard after a long hiatus
    Last edited by BBW; 05-15-2013 at 01:21 PM. Reason: adding
    BBW. MS, RD

  4. #4
    Daniel the Dog
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    Yaw, I don't know if I really hurt myself in long races. I am always just trying to finish the dang race.


    Quote Originally Posted by BBW View Post
    ^^^ yep
    to expand a little more..
    -Genetics: things like muscle fibre type (fast or slow-fast twitch are more "fatigueable"); sweat composition (some people like myself are "salty sweaters")
    -Training intensity/duration and exercise intensity/duration (all this also modulated by genetics)
    -Nutrition: pre/during/post hydration and electrolyte ingestion
    -Acclimation: properly getting aclimated to warmer weather

    all in all Jaybo, if you have NEVER had cramps you have never gotten dehydrated or push yourself pass your capabilities! so push harder! (I only get cramps under rare circumstances like being really dehydrated due to lack of water or pushing WAY harder and longer than what I'm trained in that particular moment for); also pushing hard after a long hiatus

  5. #5
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    I am in the same boat and have never cramped up that I know of. I do know I've pushed myself passed my limits as I've made myself sick on many long races. I just don't cramp.

  6. #6
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    Yeah, nobody really knows for sure about cramps. Lots of studying, no truly concrete conclusions.

    I have never had a tummy issue in a 100, no matter what I eat, but I always ride through one set of generally mild legs cramps. First the right leg, then wait for it......there goes the left one, then back to racing.

    Dad is very prone to leg cramps, so probably not much of a mystery!
    The drive towards achievement and success is the motive power of civilization.

  7. #7
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    I never get cramps

    I cramp on a regular basis...so frustrating. Even longish training sessions I can cramp... but only my legs. Some of my riding buddies have back cramping issues.
    I've only been super nausea once. That was on a tough 15 hr rock climbing ultralight weight hard push. I think one was due to lack of water for 4 hours.
    Back to my leg cramping...seems to start around the two hour mark.

    Cheers,
    Mike

  8. #8
    Feral Roadie
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jaybo View Post
    Why do some people get cramps and others seem cramp free?
    FWIW, I don't ever remember cramping until I got out of shape in my 30's and started on the long road back to being in shape again.

  9. #9
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    I never cramped when I ran. I've done several marathons and ran in NYC August insanely humid half marathons several times.

    I'm fitter, lighter and healthier now, however I get bad cramps on long MTB races when it's hot (not as hot as the NYC runs).

    Maybe it's that I'm 5 years older, maybe it's due to dry heat vs humid, maybe it's sitting in the same position for too long (easier to shake out legs when running vs cycling), maybe I'm pushing myself harder? I'm still searching for a solution as it kills my race times. Eating more is definitely helping put it off for longer, but not completely. Maybe it's just a nutrition thing? It's not an electrolyte issue for me as I took a bunch of those tables once and it didn't help.

  10. #10
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    I recently turned 41 years old. I don't recall ever dealing with leg cramps during rides in the past; but on two rides already this short year [weather has held up the spring here] I've gotten leg cramps that stop my ride cold...so bad I can't even stand when I get off the bike. 5-10 minutes later I can walk a bit or spin a light gear.

    First time was about 8 miles into a 9 mile ride and on Memorial Day I was about 13 miles into a 22 mile loop when the first hints of cramps started showing up. I kept backing off the throttle and going with progressively lower gears to keep them at bay but in the last couple miles I couldn't go any further up the hill on my way home.

    Now I regularly supplement vitamins and minerals as well as eat a pretty balanced diet. I've had plenty of salt, bananas, and magnesium lately. I drink nothing but water and a cup or two of coffee a day. My urine was fairly clear even at the end of the ride so I don't think it's nutrition or hydration. Is it just conditioning then? Do I continue to push myself harder and longer until the cramp point is beyond any length I plan to ride recreationally?

    Does anyone have tips on action or steps I can take to speed up or minimize the duration of the cramps so I can finish my ride stronger or faster after a cramp sets in?

  11. #11
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    I was chatting to a mate about this a couple days ago. He told me there has been some research into this with triathletes with some interesting results. Comparing people who cramped at ironman events they found no correlation with nutritional intake. Apparently the correlation was with expected finish time. The people who tended to predict a faster finish time that what they achieved tended to cramp more compared to those who finished closer to their predicted time. They believe these people go out harder than their capabilities and overload their musclular system resulting in the cramping.

    I'm sorry I haven't seen the research myself or know where to find it.

  12. #12
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    There is something to this. I almost never cramp. I ride hard for 1 hour to 4 hours and don't cramp. However the one time I did was in 30 mile race. It was after a long 1 hour climb and 15 min descent. I think what happened is that worked my legs really hard on the climb (more sustained power output than ever before) and then when into attack position on the descent. I never gave them a cool down period and as soon as the trail went up and had to pedal I had the worst cramps of my life. So bad I could not stand not to mention ride. Interesting this spot on race route is known as cramp hill and was not the only one suffering there. I think alot of comes from overexertion on the prior climb and the muscles resting on the descent.

    So my plan to deal with this next year is two fold. 1 get more training on distances an effort so that have less risk of over working my self an spin the down hill to keep give my legs a cool down on the bike.
    Joe
    2003 KHS Alite 4000 26" Hardtail - XC, All mountain, blah blah blah.. I just ride.

  13. #13
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    As a cronic cramper I think it is a varying combination of the already mentioned variables. My father had terrible issues with debilitating cramps on longer rides...and it seems like no matter what I do- I get some as well. Proper training, nutrition (staying hydrated & lots of the proper electrolytes), pacing in a race, etc help... but if the event is longer than 2-3 hours I just know now that at some point I'll have to push through the cramp pain cave. Normally once I work through them they stay at bay but I'm never 100% afterwords. One thing that does seem to make them go away and stay away is 1) a healthy dose of nasty, salty, sour pickle juice, or 2) Quinine- but there is some speculation about the safety of large doses of quinine so I now only use the leg cramp pills from the local walgreens that have smaller doses. I've come to the conclusion that I have more fast twitch composition (use to be a decent crit racer / sprinter before getting into endurance mtb events) and that cramps are my body's way of telling me I'm simply not built for endurance racing...to which I say "Shut Up Legs!".

  14. #14
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    I get cramps at the end of a 6 hr race. I get cramps at the end of a 1.5hr race.
    For me, it's the sign that I've paced myself about right.

    If I don't get cramps I know I've been a bit lazy.

  15. #15
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    I never got cramps before my first Leadville 100. Started with mild cramps about 60 miles into the race, raging debilitating cramps going up Powerline at about mile 80.

    After that, I've had cramps many times. Kind of seems like the flood gates opened. Several of the cramping episodes were in 2 hour races where I crossed a really cold mountain creek. The freezing cold water hit my legs and my calves locked up.

    Most of my cramps are in the quads. Sometimes hamstrings.

    I've had good success with Hammer Fizz tablets. Have not had bad cramps since adding one of those per bottle while consuming one bottle per hour. HEED for short rides/races, Perpetuem for >3 hour ride/races, one Fizz tablet per bottle.

    In my second Leadville 100, I started to have cramps at the top of Columbine (50 miles into the race) in spite of the Fizz tablet. I had more in my back pocket, so I popped another in my bottle and the cramps subsided. I put an additional Fizz in each bottle after that and did not cramp.
    '13 Spec Epic 29er, '09 Orbea CX, '12 Cannondale SuperSix, '08 Spec Transition, '06 Simtra Trials (sold), Yamaha YZ450 (sold)

  16. #16
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    I wish I didn't cramp! You guys that don't are really lucky. I've been trying to find what works for me for years. Last year at the Breck 100 I started drinking pickle juice and it seemed to help quite a bit. I also stopped over drinking water. I think it was flushing everything out.
    The LPG

  17. #17
    Daniel the Dog
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    It is funny that last weekend I did a relatively flat cross country race and started to get crampy. Bad kharma maybe I was just spinning my legs like crazy.

  18. #18
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    a lot of interesting stuff. I think all things mentioned are great points. I agree with the idea of over drinking water.
    I done a century yesterday (well 80 miles) at mile 71 cramped the worse I ever have. Had to get a SAG worker to haul me back in at mile 80. It was a combination of warmer temps than I been riding in, very windy, not drinking enough and maybe going to hard.
    Comas aren't as fun as riding your bike, so wear a Helmet.

  19. #19
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    Hello, my name is James, and I am a cramper.
    (everyone replies, "Hi James")
    I remember reading in some bike magazine that there is no concrete evidence that electrolytes will aid in preventing cramping. This is probably because (as stated several times above) people cramp for different reasons. If you cramp do to loss of electrolytes, then they are more likely to help, if it is do to over-exertion or hereditary (genetics) then you are screwed. I do recall the conclusion was that there was only one method to keep pushing cramps off...and that is to ride/train more (though I still use electrolytes religiously).
    When I started 6 hr races, I would almost always cramp ~4 hours in. Hot or cold temps made no difference. Switch to 100's and 24s and I seem to cramp toward the last 1/3 of the event. And much worse in the heat. I cramp in the quads, hamstrings, calves...anywhere in the legs I can (but no where else). Part age, part exertion, part genetics ??? Now I just look forward to the cramps. Like my Mother-In-Law at Thanksgiving, she is showing whether I want her to or not. When they occur I talk to them, "Oh, there you are...been wondering when you were going to show...Hope your not planning on sticking around long as I have some work to do here..."
    It helps to know that even when seemingly debilitating, you CAN get past them and eventually keep riding. It just takes patience and a HTFU attitude.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by S.O.B. View Post
    It helps to know that even when seemingly debilitating, you CAN get past them and eventually keep riding. It just takes patience and a HTFU attitude.
    So what do you do to get past them? When it got to the point I couldn't pedal anymore, I tried to stand and my legs wouldn't support me so I sat on the trail rubbing my legs out...several minutes later I could stand...then slow walk and eventually I could ride slow and easy again.

    Are there steps I can take to speed this up and get back to riding?

  21. #21
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    I never get cramps

    It's funny but for me it's an activity based thing. Running, XC ski racing, biking, no cramps. Put me in a swimming pool, and I've cramped up twice in my calf. Only twice, but ugh, sucky place to cramp up at.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by SeaHag View Post
    So what do you do to get past them? When it got to the point I couldn't pedal anymore, I tried to stand and my legs wouldn't support me so I sat on the trail rubbing my legs out...several minutes later I could stand...then slow walk and eventually I could ride slow and easy again.

    Are there steps I can take to speed this up and get back to riding?
    Nope, that's about it. I have had that same scenario happen with me...cramped in one leg (bad) so I started pulling with the other. Cramped in that one and simply fell over on my bike as I could not unclip. I just lied there until I could unclip, eventually stand, walk and eventually ride (the whole time drinking). I ride a SS exclusively, so I can't always 'take it easy' but in that particular race (I have only cramped in endurance races) I had to pedal as easy as I could, coast down hills, and as soon as I hit an incline, I would hop off and walk. After a mile or two of this, I was eventually able to start pedaling normal and standing on the pedals up hills. Sometimes cramps would reoccure, but not always. Mentally it is good to know that they can be overcome and it does not mean the end of your event. I have seen riders in many events pack it in due to cramps. I hope not to be one of them...but then again I have not raced in terrible heat. That may change in a couple weeks.

  23. #23
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    Ive had cramps come on more than once...take Hammer Endurolytes and they have been able to stave off the cramps. I always carry extras on long rides.

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