Scientists have studied cycling leg cramps for many years, however they haven’t identified a specific cause. There are some probable causes: dehydration, over-exertion, and electrolyte imbalances.
This affects about 60% of cyclists. It’s a good thing there are simple ways to prevent cycling leg cramps.
Here are some simple tips on how to prevent cycling leg cramps:
1. Stretch before your ride.
Gentle stretches can warm and lengthen your muscles. Make sure you warm up before stretching. Do hamstring or calf stretches before riding. Also, you can stretch your calves while you are riding by standing on your pedals and dropping your heels.
2. Drink a lot of water before and during your ride.
If you will ride long miles or go for a race, it is advised that you drink 13-20 ounces of cold water before pedaling and 5-8 ounces every 10-15 minutes during your ride.
3. Add electrolytes.
Electrolyte imbalance and dehydration can happen when you lose a lot of fluid quickly through sweating. This can lead to cycling leg cramps. This situation is likely to happen when you ride for more than one hour. Some doctors recommend taking in sports drink in addition to water.
4. Increase your daily intake of potassium and calcium.
Try fat free milk and low fat yogurt to get a huge dose of calcium daily. Vegetables like broccoli, kale, and bok choi are also rich in calcium. Foods that are potassium-rich include meat, banana, avocado, poultry, and fish. You can also try taking a calcium supplement enriched with magnesium at the start of each day or before going to bed. These two minerals help prevent and ease cycling leg cramps.
5. Wear snug clothing around your muscles.
Cycling leg cramps can occur if you wear tight clothing around your muscles like calfs and thighs. This is because there’s no enough blood carried to your working muscles. Wear snug cycling clothing but never so tight it stops circulation when you’re riding.
6. Keep your legs warm.
Getting cold and damp particularly on the upper sections of your thighs during a long ride can cause serious cycling leg cramps. Cold can set in if you just go out in your shorts. Make sure you keep your legs warm when riding in cold weather to prevent cycling leg cramps.
7. Try apple cider vinegar.
Daily intake of apple cider vinegar mixed with water can help prevent cycling leg cramps. Just add two tablespoons to 8 ounces of water.
Watch this video to learn more tips on how to prevent cycling leg cramps.