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  1. #1
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    Diet change for the better cause muscle cramps.

    2 years ago I started getting cramps in my hamstrings at night after a hard ride or race.(very painful cramps. felt like being stabbed in the back of the leg). Always hydrate well. Just thought is was because I'm getting older.
    After reading in hear about home made sport drinks with lite salt to prevent cramps, I'm wondering if my diet change contributed to my cramping. Earlier in the same year, I switched to a much more natural food diet. no processed food, and stopped using salt altogether due to heartburn, and my wifes dietary requirements.
    I have little knowledge of nutrition, and may be way oversymplifying this.
    Using supplement during and after race, and more stretching has helped, but not eliminated cramping.
    Any thoughts?

  2. #2
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    fwiw, ymmv:

    A friend of mine, at about 50 yrs old, started getting cramps the last couple years. I believe it was mostly on the bike symptoms, but at any rate, he now swears by taking magnesium supplements and has since greatly reduced their occurrence.

    No doubt your diet is(at least) a contributing factor, keep searching and good luck!

  3. #3
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    Thanks for the response. Heard recently about magnesium also.
    Also seems like newer medical research is showing no link between dehydration, or electrolyte loss with excersise associated muscle cramping. But I have also found quite a bit of info about potassium, and magnesium for preventing muscle cramps. Lots of info I'm finding contradicts other info.
    I have been finding that stretching for longer before and after riding has had the biggest impact.

  4. #4
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    It's thought to be a trio of minerals, magnesium, potassium, and calcium, and how they work together or don't. Salt also effects the levels of other things, like calcium, and how it can or can't get used.
    Sometimes, or should I say often, people clean up their diet and run into problems. Like how many cut out too many fats which leads to problems and cravings because we need some fats of all types. Another side effect to cutting some things is they get replaced with other things that are hi/low in all types of vit and min which could result in other problems.
    Would recommend a warm up before, cool down after, followed by a good stretching.
    Would also recommend a multi vitamin and fish oil or some other omega supplement with your last meal of the day. If this works you can, if you want, adjust your diet to be more adequate in the minerals your vitamins are providing, and therefore eliminate the need for them.
    For me i found that hydrating too much too soon, or not enough before or during exercise was a cause, so slow and steady is what I do more of now.
    Also think it's good for you and your progress to have a full cheat day once every week or two, and a full day of no food, only water, once / twice a month.
    Last edited by theMeat; 03-03-2014 at 05:22 PM.
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by stew325 View Post
    Thanks for the response. Heard recently about magnesium also.
    Also seems like newer medical research is showing no link between dehydration, or electrolyte loss with excersise associated muscle cramping. But I have also found quite a bit of info about potassium, and magnesium for preventing muscle cramps. Lots of info I'm finding contradicts other info.
    I have been finding that stretching for longer before and after riding has had the biggest impact.
    Not sure I agree with that. My experience has been pretty simple. Drink enough on the bike...about 15-20oz per hour = NO cramps. Drink less than that = terrible cramps. That's on rides with fairly high exertion 2+ hours (mostly road miles). Seems that in my case at least, hydration/electrolytes directly correlate with cramping. I get my cramps either in my calves or in the Vastus Medialis.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by stew325 View Post
    2 years ago I started getting cramps in my hamstrings at night after a hard ride or race.(very painful cramps. felt like being stabbed in the back of the leg). Any thoughts?
    I still can cramp after a long sustained effort. Huge hamstring pain, like OMFG....Over the years, for me, it's my body telling me I've not consumed enough fluids. Usually, it's a full on epic-type day where we're on the bike for 6-8 hours going literally non stop. My solution has been drink a bunch of liquid, and eat a banana or two.

    In one case, I worked with a male tennis player from Switzerland who had a history of severe cramping and fatigue after practice that was relieved by a regular and diligent fluid-consumption schedule. In her book, well-known sport nutritionist Nancy Clark tells an amusing story about a runner who eliminated his painful muscle cramps by following the simple postexercise advice to first drink water for fluid replacement and then have a beer for social fun.

    With your dietary changes, as others have suggested you may not be getting enough of something in your food supply. Although focused on vegetarians, I found this to be an interesting and somewhat relevant read. Learn the connection between diet and muscle cramping

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by stew325 View Post
    Thanks for the response. Heard recently about magnesium also.
    Also seems like newer medical research is showing no link between dehydration, or electrolyte loss with excersise associated muscle cramping. But I have also found quite a bit of info about potassium, and magnesium for preventing muscle cramps. Lots of info I'm finding contradicts other info.
    I have been finding that stretching for longer before and after riding has had the biggest impact.

    cramps you cannot 'figure out' in one season ?

    #1 thing to do, get a complete blood workup at the doctor, including HbA1c

    if bloodwork is nominal,

    go the supplement route but also try calcium. calcium works for me...a simple 500mg pre-ride.


    cramps can be an indication your endocrine system blew an o-ring somewhere...in my case turned out, at a late age, I became a type 1 diabetic. had monster cramps between 60-100 miles on centuries all that season and could not figure it out. pancreas is running at 8% !!!!

    once I got my a1c under control and dialed in my insulin, cramps-b-gone and I only get them if I a) go huge and b) skip the calcium

  8. #8
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    A natural diet is usually a good one and one that is usually pretty balanced in macronutrients by default. But take a look at it, take a week out of your regular meals and food you eat and see what you are actually eating for some it may surprise you, others it may just be what you thought. As far as nutrition goes on a whole try a high quality multivitamin, not supermarket counter pills. I still haven't found one that I like all that much other then the vitamins in Vega One which I usually add to a shake every morning.

    As far as cramping goes there is no answer or snake oil out there that will work. It is a combination of training, nutrition (on and off the bike), and rest. There is not much support for stretching but if it works for you that is awesome. I feel your pain because I get them as well I find that after 8 hour races I would have to be careful to sleep with my legs extended and not flexed or I would get wicked cramps. Training has helped me the most out of anything.
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  9. #9
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    Here's an article, not too in depth, but interesting...talks about muscle fatigue and cramping...

    Neuromuscular fatigue leads to exercise-associated muscle cramping not dehydration and a salt deficit | Biestmilch's Seven

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by jrastories View Post
    There is not much support for stretching
    When you geta cramp pretty much the only thing you can do for immediate relief is stretch. Next time you cramp try it. Hold stretch for a few minutes, release, repeat. There's no way stretching doesn't help for that, at least in my body. As far as preventing cramps throu stretching that can be debatable. I find that when i make a few minute stretch a part of my routine after harder stuff, my recovery and progress is way better, so can't see why with better overall muscle happiness that doesn't help cramping too.
    "Tortured by mental illness" ~monogod

  11. #11
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    @Stew325 there is so much that goes into cramping - during and after. I know we're promoting our own link here, but, honestly, Kelli from Apex Nutrition (Lynda Wallenfels thinks highly of her as do many others) is really good, especially with endurance athletes. She's helped me personally. She gives away a lot of free, great info on her podcast, so I thought you might find it useful: The Apex Nutrition Podcast is Nutrition Information for Mountain Bikers

  12. #12
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    Thanks everybody for the feedback. A lot of the info that was provided, and linked relates to conflicting info I have found. New info to me is that stretching may not prevent cramping, and my races being more intense than my training. I may have to step up the intensity of my training. If I can with full time plus work, wife, three kids, and life. haha. I have read a lot and learned a lot this week. I will look into all of the suggestions made.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mtnbikeradio View Post
    @Stew325 there is so much that goes into cramping - during and after. I know we're promoting our own link here, but, honestly, Kelli from Apex Nutrition (Lynda Wallenfels thinks highly of her as do many others) is really good, especially with endurance athletes. She's helped me personally. She gives away a lot of free, great info on her podcast, so I thought you might find it useful: The Apex Nutrition Podcast is Nutrition Information for Mountain Bikers
    Thanks for this link. I found this useful. I do not race, but I do long rides, often alone, and I can bonk if I do not eat and hydrate properly. Cool podcast.

  14. #14
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    Diet change for the better cause muscle cramps.

    @trmn8er no prob. There is so much out there to talk about and share for all of this. I use it selfishly sometimes and get guests on and topics that I want to hear about.


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