Monday, December 12, 2011

Good nutrition but muscle cramps... why?

Training is going well, power is improving, lots of miles have been banked in the last few months, so why am I now having an issue with muscle cramps?
Some people never experience them, others get them occasionally, and I seem to be plagued with them on long rides of 3 hours + at the moment.  It's annoying.  You feel good, you put the power down, and your leg muscles lock up.  And they hurt.  Probably worse is the muscle pain and tightness you get the day after the cramps.  I wouldn't be so worried about the cramps if my next race was short, but the problem is that my upcoming race is 3 hours +, so I need to get the muscle-cramp-thing "sorted out" asap.

And before you ask... yes I am seeing a dietician, and yes my diet is good.  Sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium intake are all fine, and I am taking in adequate carbohydrates and water.
Even still, several studies have been published, and all of them showed no relationship between any electrolyte levels and the risk of cramping in athletes during exercise.
Some other recent studies (thanks for the links Cycling Tips) showed that distinct risk factors for developing exercise associated muscle cramps (EAMC) include:
- (1) Aggressive pacing strategies (trying to go faster than your current personal best over a set distance)
- (2) Racing at a higher intensity then what you normally ride in training
- (3) Riding for longer than you‘re used to
- (4) Doing another type of exercise you’re not used to (eg. a cyclist running a one-off marathon)...
... and unfortunately none of these really apply to me and the times I get muscle cramps!
Oh well, another trip to the Sports Medicine doctor this week.
Maybe it will be related to my previous Iron deficiency, but right now I'm not so sure it will be.
Or maybe I just need to harden up?


A dream that was once lost but now found... said...

Take supplements if you don't already and eat more food's higher in salt following long rides. I'll send you this article which talk's about this. It's one theory you may be able to relate to!

nat said...

Thanks Nik!