Cramping Your Ride: Cycling and Cramps



The easiest way to cure a cramp is to prevent your body from getting one in the first place. Cyclists may experience cramping when they jump into a routine that is too hard or too far above their current endurance level. Once the cramp has already set in, removing the stress on the muscle or possibly massaging the muscle may be the only ways to prevent it from getting worse. Although it’s easy to tell you what may cause cramping, when you are halfway up Indianapolis’s Monon Trail, and you feel the onset of the unmistakable pain a cramp brings, what next? Sudden cramps during exercise are an unwelcome part of activity – but they don’t have to be…

If you want to steer clear of cramps, there are a couple of preventive steps you can take before even hopping on the bike:

  1. Hydrate: If you know you’re going to be on a long endurance ride today, start your day with proper hydration (ie. 8-12 oz. of water prior to participation) and prepare for hydration during your event (i.e., one to two 20 oz. water bottles on your bike to drink over the first couple hours). If you plan on a very intense ride or training in hot, humid weather you may want to consider a sports electrolyte drink to give your body the nutrients it needs to push through even the toughest of rides. When the body sweats, it sweats out sodium and other electrolytes. Sports drinks contain the electrolytes the body needs to replenish itself during the ride. Staying hydrated allows you to prevent other undesired effects such as dizziness, headaches, and heat-related illness such as heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
  2. Chew on a Tums: Surprisingly, Tums are full of calcium, and because of that, they have been a favorite among cyclists for years. The body uses calcium to maintain healthy muscle contraction. Chewing on one before or during the race could help to reduce your risk of muscle cramps.
  3. Ease into Tough Workouts: No one’s body is automatically ready to bike a cycling marathon. Just like a runner would train for running a marathon, build your way up to your goal. Don’t go out of the gate with the vision to bike more than you know you can handle. Work your way up, listen to your body, and adjust yourself in the saddle during your ride in order to recruit different muscles. This will help your muscles last longer on the ride by giving the hardest-working muscles a rest at times.
  4. Take a Deep Breath and Stretch: Don’t view stopping the bike completely for a break as a bad thing! Some muscles simply won’t ease themselves without a quick break. During these breaks, stretch and take deep breaths. Feel the oxygen reaching every muscle in your body. This will rejuvenate both your body and mind.

Try any or all of these tips in order to prevent cramps in the future. Any form of injury prevention is the best way to help your body in the long run. If cramps are persistent or if they ever turn into constant pain, this is a more serious problem. Each Body One clinic offers free injury screening and one of our expert physical therapists will discuss your concerns and evaluate any potential injury.

Body One is locally owned and operated, with three locations serving Central Indianapolis: North Meridian, Fishers, and Zionsville. If you’re ready to move better and feel better, call or click today!