Friday, April 13, 2007

muscle cramps

Here's a link to an article on muscle cramping at Velo News.

Another good summary sight is at

Bottom line: no defninitive answers/solutions. We are so highly individual that each person's reason and solution(if found) are solely their own. Regardless, there is no doubt that the lock-up tear inducing muscle cramps are a bane of many cross country racers.

Just for reference point here's my take on my muscle cramps

-Combination of multiple factors
-Certain Electrolyte imbalances

-Let's face it, in a race I go harder than training. No matter how hard I try to do the opposite, it never works out that way. In training I just cannot bypass the selfpreservation complex that automatically sclaes back effort in order to avoid the lock up cramps.

In a race this self preservation get switched off and I can go over the limit and the cramps can take me out.

Electrolyte Imbalance
-sodium, potassium, calcium (chelate vs lactate monohydrate), magnesium? which one if any. One year I tried out Endurolytes and Elete Water. While both helped with heat related light headedness and nausea neither helped with the lock up leg cramps.

My nutrition during a race is almost exclusively Sports drinks for the carbs, but there is sodium in there too, and the Endurolytes/Elete certainly provided enough sodium, so for me I don't think sodium was a culprit.

SportLegs have shown a significant mitigation of my muscle cramps.

Exactly why, I'm not sure. Could be form of calcium or quantity. The other stuff I take and have taken have magnesium but maybe not in the same qty. Who knows. I certainly like the cramp stopping ability of the Sportlegs, but sometimes I don't like the deadened feeling they produce in the leg. It takes a little mental strength to convince myself that the legs can be pushed when they feel numbed.

For this next race I'm going to change the protocol a little.
Skipping the dosage at -1hr. Because since the legs are fresh at the start I don't need them and I want the legs to feel snappy. The first dose will be at time=0 on the start line. This is designed to kick in at +1hr and will cover me till +2hr. At the +1 hr I'll take a dose of 3capsules designed to kick in at +2hr and take me to the end.


At 11:12 AM, Blogger Sean Gallagher said...

Hi Ashwin,

I used to suffer from cramps on long road rides. Usually centuries or long hard climbing type rides on the Parkway.

After switching my in-ride drink to First Endurance's ( EFS or Electrolyte Fuel System my cramping problems have all but disappeared.

This drink mix is not a panacea for cramps cause I will still cramp up if I go into the red too often or for too long. That's just human nature. However, I find that the combination of taste, texture, carb/protien ratio and whopping amount of 5 different electrolytes come together to keep me energy levels up and keep the cramps at bay.

The co-founder lives in C-Ville and I've met talked with him a few times. His company has been featured in many mags and websites. They are famous for their Optygen product that claims to increase your ability to perform at threshold. I have tried it and I will say that it works. It's too expensive to use yearly but I used it before I went to France last year to ride/race in the Etape du Tour and was please with the results. Using Optygen and the EFS mix I was able to make it to the base of Alp d'Huez. Granted I was shattered but I only cramped in the last few km's as I was racing to make the cut off time.

I'll bring some extra tomorrow if I make it to the Dragon's Back but given the forecast I may puss out. Riding on a ridgetop in a thuderstorm doesn't sound like a good idea.

You can order First Endurance products online at Performance so save you scubby dollars and wait for the sales. I get it through my club since we know the owner of the company and get a group deal on it. They also sponsor our team which helps.

Good luck tomorrow.


At 10:14 PM, Blogger TriStupe said...

nothing some ORS won't help. Tht's my usual staple supplement before race.

works everytime.

At 7:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Ashwin,

I really hope that you and your family and friends are OK after all of the terrible events at VT over the past few days. I am a little concerned that you haven't said anything about Dragon's Back, but of course I understand that you have other things on your mind right now. If you have a minute, let all of us who follow your blog know you are OK!



At 7:26 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 7:27 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

I suffer cramps on long rides too. It was very painful. What i do is that i take pain reliever and drink lots of water. I also tried having pickle juices instead of Gatorade since it works faster than water like almost 45%.

muscle cramps

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