Any cyclist knows that cramps are almost inevitable. Whether you’re a hobbyist or professional athlete, cramping can have a sudden onset that affects your entire performance. It can bring your latest ride to a screeching halt, and you may have residual cramping that makes mobility and routine exercise uncomfortable.
Cyclists experience cramping due to muscle fatigue. This often occurs as an electric zap, or lightning bolt of pain, shooting along their calf, hamstring, or quad muscle.
What causes cyclists’ cramping, and what can you do about it? Read on to learn the reasons why and what you can do to prevent them.
Let’s get started!
Why Cyclists Get Cramps
Cramping is a common issue faced by all athletes of every level. A cyclist is most likely to experience cramps in their legs due to continued pressure being exerted onto their pedals.
The more you use any muscle, the stronger it gets — but it also gets more prone to fatigue and cramps. In fact, even the most agile of athletes can develop painful cramps when cycling.
A muscle cramp is caused by misfiring between the nerves in a muscle and your central nervous system (CNS).
Factors such as dehydration, low blood sugar levels, positioning, warm-up and cool-down exercises also influence the frequency and severity of cyclist cramps.
Training is an extremely important factor in preventing cyclist cramps. The best thing you can do for your muscles and overall health is to follow a strategic training schedule that never pushes your body too far at any given point.
Many cyclists, especially novices, tend to think that longer rides mean higher endurance at a faster rate.
Unfortunately, going too far before your body is adjusted to riding for long periods can have detrimental effects on your muscular health. You should always focus on slowly building up the time you spend on the bike.
What to Do When You Get Cramps While Cycling
If you experience a cramp while cycling, there are a few things you can do to immediately tackle the problem. First, don’t try to push through the pain.
Forcing a spasming muscle to work harder will only increase the intensity of your cramp. In fact, if you push yourself too hard, you could end up injuring yourself.
You should stop, stretch, and slowly work back into movement when your pain resolves.
The best way to prevent muscle cramps while riding is to stay hydrated.
Hydration is crucial to preventing and alleviating muscle cramps at any point during a cycling session. FixxNutrition’s Fuel X is key to preventing dehydration by replenishing vital electrolytes and keeping athletes like cyclists energised with the right amount of carbohydrates to prevent cramping.
Dehydration lowers the body’s necessary levels of both H20 and electrolytes. Without enough water and essential minerals, such as sodium and potassium, muscles are more likely to cramp.
Low hydration levels cause the body to prioritize supplying fluid to vital organs — like your heart and lungs — so muscles wind up with less fluid as a result. This leads to spasms, which can start off small or become a searing charley horse that forces you to get off your bike mid-ride.
If you find yourself suffering that electric bolt of pain while cycling, your best bet is to stretch and rehydrate ASAP. Current studies show that electrolytes are better than water at stopping muscle cramps after dehydration.
Another solution is pickle juice. You may think it sounds bizarre, but many athletes drink pickle juice to stop cramps in their tracks.
Can Pickle Juice Really Help Muscle Cramps?
Pickle juice is the briny, vinegar-based liquid that ferments cucumbers into pickles. Most people dump it out after they’ve finished a jar, but it actually holds the secret to nearly instant muscle cramp relief.
Natural pickle juice contains the same components as many electrolyte drinks, including salt, water, and probiotics. Probiotics are healthy bacteria that naturally occur in the body and help promote a healthy gut.
Your gut, by the way, has a major connection to your CNS. There are around 500 million neurons in the human gut that connect directly to the brain and communicate through the central nervous system.
The CNS sends signals in both directions, but if your body is too low in the probiotics it needs, then you’re likely to struggle with more intense cramps that are harder to alleviate.
Pickle juice benefits include improved muscle communication and less cramping throughout the body.
One of the core reasons behind the effects of pickle juice for athletes may lie in vinegar. Vinegar helps to regulate your body’s natural blood clotting, and it’s rich in both potassium and calcium, two essential electrolytes.
Although there haven’t been any formal studies to prove its effect, vinegar from pickle juice is largely known to shorten cramping and ease intensity in a matter of minutes.
FixxNutrition’s CrampFix shots provide a high-concentration dose of the same cramp-relieving ingredients found in pickle juice.
With calcium, magnesium, sugar, salt, potassium, and vinegar, CrampFix quickly supplies the body with exactly what it needs to stop cramps in seconds.
What are the best ways to stop cycling cramps?
Athletes have a few options when it comes to both preventing and treating cramps while cycling.
First, always warm up and train properly. Being a cyclist is so much more than hopping on a bike and pedaling non-stop. As such, cyclists need to perform a solid stretching routine for pre- and post-cycling.
Second, don’t overlook sodium and hydration before a ride. Increase your sodium level and water intake slightly several days before you plan to cycle. This will give your body the extra support it needs during periods of high exertion.
Third, bring the right products along to help you if cramps start while you cycle. It’s not exactly easy to tote along a bottle of vinegar or pickle juice, but CrampFix comes in small, easy-to-carry packets and even a mouth spray.
CrampFix helps thousands of cyclists in Australia and around the world alleviate cramps in 2 minutes or less. It’s 100% vegan, gluten-free, and tested for quality to ensure optimal performance for every athlete.
Stop your muscle cramps quickly — click here to learn more about CrampFix.