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PostPosted: Mon Apr 19, 2004 11:18 am GMT +0000    Post subject: Cramps Reply with quote

OK, I know this is a common, old question but I can't find a solution. Last 2 races, I've gotten cramps in my calfs. I've had cramps from sports from high school on. I'm a very heavy sweater. I could say that in my younger days, it was from lack of hydration or diet. Lately however, I can't see any obvious reasons. I'm hydrating very well, warming up, drinking sports drinks during races, taking goo packets and I even ate a banana before the Flat Creek race. But, there it was. Half way through my second lap, my calf cramped up and I DNF.
Any ideas would be appreciated. I've heard pickle juice, salt tablets....
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The Bike Doc

Joined: 08 May 2003
Posts: 1371
Location: Corpus Christi and Warda, Texas

PostPosted: Mon Apr 19, 2004 11:35 am GMT +0000    Post subject: Reply with quote


It sounds like you have taken appropriate preventative measures but still are suffering. Have, you considered Tiddly Winks? Wink

Seriously, look at the volume you are drinking. Conditioned athletes can loose 2 quarts (2 liters) of sweat and hour. That translates into a 70 CamelBak bladder or three 22 oz water bottles an hour. If you are not drinking that much, you will get behind on your fluid replacement and can suffer cramps. The energy gels must be taken with copious amounts of fluid, 16-20 per packet. If not, you can get gut cramps and get dehydrated.

If you are doing well in this area of fluid management, look at adding daily stretching to your training and off season regimen. I suffered recurrent calf cramps back to my late teens when I had a job that required me to walk from 10-25 miles every day. That cramping followed me into my 30s and amateur racing days. After reading an article on stretching and getting an excellent book on stretching (Bob Anderson's "Stretching"), I added daily stretching to my training and racing program and I kissed my cramps good-by.

Another key element is training the muscles to the intensity you will be racing. Weight training programs added once a week on season and 2-3 times a week off season can be a substantial boost in preventing cramping from over using under-trained muscles. As part of your weekly training during the race season, have one training day of intense intervals that mimick the conditions of your race. Consider going out with some friends and hammer the trails at race pace mid week to help condition your muscles for the intensity you will be requiring of them on a race weekend.

Forget the pickle juice and salt tablets. Taking a sport drink will replace the sodium, potasium and chloride you loose in sweat. Taking a TUMS EX tablet one an hour for each hour of intense training or racing will replace the Calcium you loose in your sweat. The pickle juice and salt tablets can easily over shoot the amount of sodium and chloride you loose and your have an equally dangerous condition of too high a blood salt level.

Paul K. Nolan, MD
AKA: The Bike Doc
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