Painful leg cramps can effectively spoil pleasure from cycling. These types of ailments can be a symptom that our body lacks the right amount of minerals. How to avoid contractions? A proper diet, hydration and warm-up before training will certainly help.
What causes painful leg cramps?
Muscle spasms and contractions are necessary for the proper functioning of the body. Natural isotonic contraction is a function of the body, thanks to which we can move – walk, run and ride a bike etc. The problem arises when our body loses control over those contractions. It’s about the so-called cramps, which manifest themselves in strong, automatic muscle tension and accompanying stabbing pain. We are unable to relax such a contraction.
Most often, the problem occurs during intense physical exertion, but it also happens in other situations, such as while sleeping or staying in one position for a long time. It is practically impossible to continue training while having a cramp. This is prevented not only by severe pain but also by the lack of control over the limb strained to the limit. The most common among cyclists are leg cramps: calf cramps, thigh cramps and foot cramps.
Why do painful muscle cramps affect us? The causes of these ailments lie in the body’s electrolyte imbalance. It is especially about the wrong amounts and proportions of elements such as potassium, magnesium, calcium and sodium, which are responsible for the proper transmission of nerve impulses. Among the causes of spasms, scientists also point to deficiencies from the right enzymes in the muscles.
Muscle cramps can be the result of a poor diet, improper lifestyle, as well as general fatigue. Particularly inactive physically people, who drink large amounts of coffee, energy drinks and alcohol can be affected by them.
How do you handle muscle cramps?
The most effective way to eliminate spasm is a slow and intensive massage and stretching of the cramped muscle. After the contraction occurs, let’s give the body a comfortable position, e.g. sit down or lie down on a flat surface. Legs are best placed higher than the rest of the body. A warm compress can also bring relief.
Cramps in the legs that occurred during cycling can be removed with the help of appropriate exercises:
- Calf cramps are among the most common cycling ailments. How to help yourself in such cases? The first stage of the exercise is to take a step forward. The leg affected by the spasm should remain behind and stick with your whole foot to the ground. Transferring your weight to the front leg will stretch the calf muscle. The pressure should be relaxed after 20 seconds, and the exercise should be repeated until the contraction disappears.
- The way to get rid of spasm of the four-headed muscle of the thigh is to grab the foot that the spasm has caught and strongly pull it to the buttock. The other leg should be straight and as close as possible to the aching limb. The leg should be loosened after 20 seconds, and the exercise should be repeated until the spasm has subsided.
- If you have a muscle spasm in the back of your thigh, straighten the leg in front of you where the spasm occurred. Rest your foot on your heel and your toes pointing up. The goal of the exercise is to gradually bend the other leg by bending over. It should last about 20 seconds.
- Foot cramp is best removed by standing on your toes and transferring all your weight to the aching part of the limb. You can also grab your fingers and pull them towards you.
Stretching exercises, warming up and massaging, however, are only temporary measures that will help temporarily. So that during the workout the problem does not occur again, it is worth reducing the physical effort at least for a while.
How do diet and training affect the cramps
To avoid contractions, you must eliminate their causes. The most important is replenishing electrolytes during training. Let’s drink a lot of fluids containing mineral elements that respond to the proper conduction of nerve impulses. Mineral water will work in this role, but it’s also worth betting on isotonic drinks. Many athletes reach for fruit rich in macroelements, e.g. bananas, just after training.
Warming up will also help us in avoiding muscle cramps. Stretching muscles before physical exercise will stimulate them to work properly and make them more flexible.
Let’s not forget about a proper diet and need of providing the body with the right amount of minerals. Let’s eat products that contain a lot of calcium and potassium. Here, dairy and unprocessed foods will work, especially fresh fruits and vegetables. It is worth supplementing the diet with appropriate dietary supplements. What is good for cramps? We mainly recommend preparations containing magnesium, calcium and potassium.