Below are the reasons why you might be cramping:
Dehydration can occur when you ride hard in hot conditions and do not drink sufficient liquid.
Muscles are activated by a balance of electric signals. Dehydration changes the signals so body doesn’t know if the signal is coming from the brain or just because there’s an electrical imbalance around the cell.
With all this confusion, your muscles have difficulty processing the right signals. And that over activity results in pain. This type of cramp can be solved with drinking lots of water.
Tip: Stay hydrated. Not just while you are riding but in the few days leading up to a big ride. Below you will see our hydration plan for big rides or long races.
A mineral deficiency involving potassium, calcium, magnesium and/or sodium can cause your muscles to spasm while riding.
Drinking to much water (for example 3 litres or more water than your usual daily water intake) – this can ‘wash’ the above-mentioned minerals out of your body and lead to cramps.
Tip: As you increase your water intake in preparation for big rides, insure you are increasing your mineral intake to match. You can either include your preferred riding supplement in your daily water in take or double up on your mineral supplementation.
Lack of Fitness
Lack of fitness can also cause spasms, as well-trained muscles are less likely to cramp. If you are not properly conditioned to the intensity of your rides, you may experience cramps because your muscles are not used effectively.
Tip: Ensure your fitness is up to par, as well as your stamina. You will need to cycle your training in the gym to include longer sessions at high intensities, maintaining a heart rate of 70% while including resistance work. If you need assistance here please send a mail to firstname.lastname@example.org with “Stamina” in the subject line.
Holding a position for a long time
It’s common to get a muscle strain after holding a position for a prolonged period. Doing something your body isn’t trained to do constantly activates the muscle and starts to break it down. This breakdown causes a build-up of lactic acid which can trigger to muscle to go into spasm. This kind of cramp typically goes away only with time which does not help when you are racing.
Tip: Staying balanced is critical. Your intensive core training will help you here. Try to position your body weight so that the bike pushes you, rather than pulling you. Practice shifting your weight forward during acceleration and shifting your weight back during braking, will help keep your body fluid, which will help prevent cramping.
There’s a series of nerves going all the way from your brain down your spinal cord. Anything can cause a nerve to get compressed including putting yourself in a weird position, which will irritate the nerve. It is important that your body position is correct for you and comfortable.
Tip: If your bike is not set up and individualized, you will end up working harder than you need to and will feel discomfort. Be sure your suspension, bar position, lever position and grip compound are all set up properly.
Inadequate blood supply
Another possible reason for muscle cramps is an inadequate blood supply. Which literally means you aren’t getting enough blood flow to your legs or arms.
Tip: Warm up before you go out on track. A quick jog through the pits or some other exercises to get your blood flowing will encourage circulation through the arms. Ask us for the pre-race warm up by sending ‘PRE-RACE WARM UP’ to email@example.com. Also, make sure your clothing is not to tight which may impede blood flow.
Localised Muscle Overuse
This form of cramp usually occurs towards the end of a long ride. It happens when one particular muscle group is being over used, and the lactic acid build up is not getting time to dissipate. This happens even if you are well trained, as the muscles are being pushed to their limits.
Tip: This is the easiest of cramps to fix. As soon as you feel the cramp coming on, take an antacid with lots of water. The antacid will draw the lactic acid build up out of your cramping muscles and into your stomach. Macke sure you continue to drink water and if possible snack on something. Please note antacids should only be taken after you feel the offending cramp begin.
Forgetting to breathe deeply while riding, as silly as it may sound, is one of the most common causes of cramps especially in beginner-level riders. Paying attention to your breathing will also help you relax.