I used to get a lot of leg cramps at night. You get woken up by the feeling of your muscles in your calf suddenly tightening. It feels like the muscle tries to contract and then gets locked in the spasm. It usually lasts 5-10 seconds and then goes. The next day the calf muscle is a little sore. You can still cycle on it, but you don’t feel like training hard. It is frustrating because it interrupts training.
Leg cramps were more common when:
- After a day of no cycling and complete rest.
- When it is hot and more likely to be dehydrated. (I used to always get them in August in NY where it is hot and humid)
Avoiding leg cramps
- After big training block, try to keep doing some cycling to keep the muscles ticking over. I guess this is one of the logic behind active recovery on ‘rest days’
- Stretching the calf muscle sometime during the day. – especially important on days of no cycling. A simple calf stretch is to stand facing a wall with back straight. Keep your heel pressed to the floor and extend the leg until you feel a pull in your leg.
- Avoid getting dehydrated during the day and take on extra salts. In particular magnesium is said to be important for avoiding leg cramps.
These trace minerals were recommended to me by a long distance running friend. They are reassuringly expensive at £22 a bottle.
It doesn’t taste particularly good, but is said to be a natural, pH neutral electrolyte replacement. Low on sodium, it contains naturally occuring electrolyte replacements from Salt Lake. It maintains pH Balance in the Body. One serving contains:
- Magnesium 250mg 63% DV
- Chloride 650mg 19%
- Sodium 5mg – 1%
- Potassium 3mg – 1% Sulfate 40mg
- Lithium 1.5mg
- Boron – 1m
I forgot to take it for a few months, but recently had a leg cramp (after 3 days off bike and on a hot day). I thought I would start taking this again to hope the magnesium prevents the leg cramps.
- Trace mineral drops £22. at Amazon.co.uk
There might be several cheaper options – from what I understand magnesium is the most helpful mineral to prevent leg cramps. Stretching is of course free.