How To Prevent Cramping On A Ride? 6 Useful Tips For Cyclists
Knowing how to prevent cramping on a ride will make your cycling less painful. Let’s dig in and discover some useful tips to protect yourself from cramping.
Cramps are probably never a pleasant experience, especially for cyclists.
They come quickly and unexpectedly when you are cycling. The pain hits you, and you have to stop riding immediately.
Cramps might strike at any point in your journey, which can be short or long with varying frequencies. A few times with that pain is probably nothing to worry about. However, if you have cramps for a long period, it could be a sign of more serious illnesses.
So can you prevent cramping when cycling? Let’s jump in and discover some causes and useful ways to avoid it.
Causes Of Leg Cramps While Cycling
You’re In Strenuous Or Intense Rides
One of the main causes of cramps is overexertion. When you try to push your limits, ride faster, and put in more effort, your legs will exceed their tolerance and cramp.
The muscles in your thighs, calves, and feet can only work to a certain extent. When this limit is surpassed, the muscles become damaged, swollen, and irritated, causing severe agony.
You’re Lacking Hydration And Nutrition
The next most common cause is dehydration and malnutrition. Cycling consumes a lot of water and energy. The amount of water lost in your body is equal to the amount of sweat you produce.
The lack of water when cycling, especially in long-distance rides, will impair the electrolyte balance in the body, causing cramps. Besides, dehydration also adversely affects blood circulation, causing dizziness and involuntary muscle contractions.
The shortage of vitamins and essential nutrients also makes the body vulnerable. The insufficiency of magnesium, zinc, calcium, iron, and vitamins B, C, and D will reduce muscle tone, making muscles more prone to injury and leading to leg cramps.
You’re In Extreme Environmental Conditions
Heat cramps are also a common case. Excessive heat leads to heatstroke, causing the heart to beat at higher paces and the muscles to contract faster. Temperatures above 40 degrees Celsius will easily cause cramps, especially when cycling long distances at high speed.
Too low temperatures also force the muscle bundles to stiffen, which leads to cramps.
- 6 Things Your Bike Mechanic Wishes You Would Stop Doing And One Thing They Wish You Would
- Is Cycling Better Than Running? Which Suits You Best?
- Can Cycling Cause Lower Abdominal Pain? How to Treat It?
How To Prevent Cramping On A Ride?
Gradually Increase The Pace When Cycling
A warm-up before a ride is very important. It helps you avoid injuries and improve your performance. Your muscles also get used to the pace of cycling, and blood flows better during the journey.
Pedal slowly and pleasantly for at least 10 minutes to gradually trigger the energy and help the muscles get used to the cycling range. Besides, your mind also needs to be warmed up. During the cycling period, you need to focus and assess the endurance of your muscles and detect if you have pain somewhere.
After 10 minutes of easy riding, you can raise the speed. Maintain a heart rate of 75 to 84 beats per minute. It will keep your breathing and pace consistent throughout the journey.
Depending on the distance and time of the race or training, you can adjust the warm-up time accordingly. Sometimes, long warm-ups are essential when short races require sprinting.
Stay Hydrated On The Road
Staying hydrated during cycling is one of the most important factors in replenishing energy, especially on long rides. It keeps you from becoming dizzy or losing strength in the middle of the road.
Carrying a water bottle during a bike ride is one of the methods used by several bikers. In this way, whenever they feel thirsty or become dehydrated, they can immediately recharge. It also does not affect the riding time and speed of the riders.
You can also take advantage of the stops to drink more water. It will not take long and help you stay hydrated throughout the next road.
One trick to keeping your water cold is to use a cooler or an insulated bag. Besides, you can use carbonated mineral water as a better version of regular mineral one. It will provide you with essential minerals such as calcium and magnesium.
One thing to keep in mind is that you should avoid sugary drinks. Because sugar is hydrophilic, it will dehydrate your body and make you thirstier.
Make A Daily Stretching Routine
Muscle strain is probably one of the problems that riders often encounter when cycling. This state can easily lead to cramps and other injuries during the ride. Stretching will help you get a more comfortable position when pedaling and avoid unnecessary injuries.
One of the most popular stretches is the high knees. To do this move, bend one knee and raise it as high as possible. Then accelerate and switch to the other knee. Do it continuously for 1 minute.
The shoulder is also an area that is prone to cramps. Shoulder reach will help stretch the muscles in your biceps and neck area. Squeeze your arms close to your ears and stretch your arms straight up to the sky. Raise your shoulders up and down. Repeat for 30 seconds.
One of the standard exercises before cycling is the squat. It will help stretch the muscles in your back, buttocks, and legs. Lower your hips gradually until your calves and thighs form a 90-degree angle. You need to hold this position for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
Maintain A Sufficient Diet For Endurance Cycling
You need to get enough carbohydrates from fruit, meat, and dairy to increase endurance and provide enough energy for the body. Riders often divide into snacks and main meals to maintain the best body condition. Each meal includes fruit, yogurt, lean meat, and cereal.
Several kinds of foods can help you avoid cramps when cycling, typically foods rich in potassium and sodium. Potassium-rich foods include bananas, potatoes, beans, and broccoli.
Sodium is abundant in beets, celery, and carrots. It will help regulate the amount of sweat released when the weather is too hot. However, you should get just the right intake of sodium. Too much can raise blood pressure.
Calcium is also important to help prevent cramps and strengthen muscles. It makes the body’s bones stronger, protecting you from injuries when cycling. You can consume calcium from green vegetables, fish, cheese, and milk.
Test Your Limits
Testing your limit is essential to avoid cramping during the ride. Many people think they can go faster and farther if they put in a little more effort. However, human capabilities are limited. It would help if you practiced regularly to know your limit not to harm your health.
One of the ways to improve endurance is through high-intensity exercise. Not only cycling, but jogging also helps improve your endurance. Maintain the exercise 3 times a week. After one month, you will see your capacity significantly improve.
You need to give your body proper rest. Do not try to exercise when your body has reached its limit. Rest will help stabilize both mentally and physically. It also assists in recovery to prepare you for your next workout.
Be Careful With Caffeine
Many riders believe that drinking coffee will help them stay awake and focused while cycling. However, coffee is also a stimulant. If used too much, it will have a negative impact on health.
Drinking a lot of caffeine-packed beverages also causes cramps when cycling. Therefore, it is best to drink when you are resting for a while after the race is over.
How To Deal With Cramping?
Using Heat Relief Patch
Heat relief patch is very useful when you have cramps. It will help you relieve the pain, promote blood circulation, and reduce swelling in sore muscles.
Besides, they are very easy to use. Simply peel off the patch and stick it on the affected area. Since it’s light and compact, you can take it with you on your cycling trips if you encounter a cramp.
You can also use an electric heating pad or a water heater when the ride is over. It is not as effective as the heat relief patch. However, it will take more time, and you can’t carry these devices with you.
Take A Soak With Essential Oils
Soaking in lukewarm water is one of the effective ways to relieve the pain of cramps. The gentle heat surrounding the injured muscle will help reduce swelling and leave the body relaxed.
You can add a few drops of essential oils to increase pain relief while soaking. Some of the most popular essential oils today are lavender and sage.
Besides soaking, you can also do more massage exercises to reduce swelling in the injured area. You should soak and massage for about 15 minutes or until the water cools.
Do Gentle Exercises
Gentle movements after a cramp have been shown to reduce pain. If you have leg cramps, you can walk gently to help blood circulation better. In addition, gentle exercises also help reduce pain in the cramped area.
If you have a cramp in your shoulder or hip, you can gently massage or press on it to relieve the pain. It would be best if you did not rub too hard to avoid making the wound more swollen.
Avoid Inflammatory Foods
Food is also one of the factors that help reduce swelling when cramping. Foods such as fish, green vegetables, and fruits rich in vitamin C can help to alleviate swelling very well. Olive oil and berries not only taste great, but they also help muscle cramps heal faster.
You should limit your intake of foods high in salt and caffeine that make the injury worse.
Is Saddle Too High Cause Leg Cramps?
When the saddle is set too high, it is easy to get cramps. That’s because riders have to put a lot of effort into the hips and legs, causing muscle relaxation. In addition, their feet must bend down and put strength into their toes.
The abdomen, hips, legs, and feet muscles will be very prone to cramps if exposed to constant pressure from cycling. Not to mention it takes a long time to pedal correctly. Cycling with a saddle that is too high for a long time will harm health.
Lactic acid is built up and produced when muscles are under excessive pressure for long periods. It will impede oxygen to the muscles and prevent blood circulation around the muscle area, causing muscle contractions.
Where Do Cramps Occur In Your Body?
Cramps often come suddenly without warning. Usually, it will happen within 15 seconds, and then it will slowly subside. Parts of the body that often get cramps include the hips, shoulders, arms, and legs, especially the thighs, calves, and feet.
These involuntary contractions can occur while riding a bike or anytime, even when you’re relaxing.
When Do You Need To See A Doctor About Leg Cramps?
One of the more serious signs that you need to see a doctor right away is the increasing frequency of your cramps. It reminds you that your muscles are very vulnerable, and one day, they will worsen if you don’t intervene.
The next indicator is red swelling in the legs or ankles. It proves that your muscle bundles are noticeably weaker. Besides, if home treatment for cramps does not show any signs of improvement, you should also see your doctor and ask them for advice.
- 10 Mistakes You Are Making On Century Rides – What Are They
- How To Lower Heart Rate While Cycling? Valuable Tips
- Does Cycling Give You Big Legs: Address The Curiosity
How to prevent cramping on a ride? We need to warm up thoroughly before each bike ride, provide water and nutrition for the body, and avoid using too much energy.
You don’t have to worry about cramps anymore. All you need to do is bring a heat relief patch, take the time to massage the affected area, and do light exercises every day.