Quad cramping - Chicagoland Sportbikes
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post #1 of 22 (permalink) Old 08-27-2012, 10:24 AM Thread Starter
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Quad cramping

Lately as in the past two months I've been dealing with quad tightness in my rides(mountain biking only) somewhere after the 17-20 mile point and only when climbing. I haven't had a full on cramp yet but I feel like my legs are right on the verge of locking up if I were to straighten them out. I'm able to spin through it and then when I get to a flat section I'll get off the bike and stretch for a bit. This helps and then I'm good until the next big effort triggers it again.

I drink water all the time although I don't keep tabs on how much. Pee is usually pretty clear so I don't think I'm having a problem staying hydrated during the days leading up to a ride. Keep straight water in the camelbak and then a bottle with mostly gatorade w/ a little water mix on the bike. I'll eat cliff bars during the ride usually somewhere after the 12 mile mark. Have yet to try gels or anything else for that matter.

I'm guessing one cause is probably from not doing a good job replenishing electrolytes, especially on these hotter days. Any recommendations on that? I've been continuing to slowly up my pace on my rides this summer as well but maybe I'm doing too much or maybe what I'm seeing is normal and I need to HTFU? Started mountain biking almost 2 years ago just to give you an idea how long I've been doing this. Cardio was nearly non-existent for the couple years before that.

Picked up an Edge 500 so I've got the ride data from Palos this past Saturday(picking up a HR strap soon). Started getting the quad tightness really bad at the end while climbing that rocky section near bullfrog lake. I just kept spinning as smooth as I could and was able to get through it. No issues by the time I got to the parking lot and off the bike. And legs felt/feel fine yesterday and today. No soreness whatsoever.

http://connect.garmin.com/activity/214821893 Looks like Garmin's site is down for maintenance but should be back up soon.

-Chris

Last edited by Hman675; 08-27-2012 at 10:27 AM.
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post #2 of 22 (permalink) Old 08-27-2012, 10:57 AM
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Cramping is usually a factor of hydration and/or nutrition. Sometimes just water isn't enough. I don't do MTB, but on my road rides I have a bottle of water with a nuun tab and a bottle of Gatorade. Do you feel good after the ride? Not just your leg, but overall. You could be well hydrated, but not drinking enough during the ride.

Could also be a bike fit issue. Maybe some adjustments can make the climbs more comfortable.

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post #3 of 22 (permalink) Old 08-27-2012, 11:01 AM
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I got a killer thigh cramp on the DairyLand Dare that almost took me off the bike, leg locked straight.

I rarely get thigh cramps, but more calf ones. I have the Enduralytes from Hammer and have other things but yet to find the answer or fix all..

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post #4 of 22 (permalink) Old 08-27-2012, 11:19 AM
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Hey Chris, I thought I would try and help you out. We have a doctor on the forum. I posed the same question to him and this is what he had to say:

"This is actually pretty common. During my tenure at Johns Hopkins I was part of a research team that studied what was known during that time as pedicolditis among athletes. The most well known professional athlete to have this issue was Esera Tuaolo. During his years with the Geen Bay Packers, he constantly complained of the exact issue that you are having. We studied 300 athletes who competed at a college level who experienced the same symptoms you describe. Although we couldn't pinpoint the exact cause of the problem, we were able to narrow it down to a common denominator among the participants of the study. 100% of the participants ate spicy foods atleast once a week and absolutely loved sucking the cock." - Dr. Chunk MD
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post #5 of 22 (permalink) Old 08-27-2012, 11:49 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PatFitz9 View Post
Cramping is usually a factor of hydration and/or nutrition. Sometimes just water isn't enough. I don't do MTB, but on my road rides I have a bottle of water with a nuun tab and a bottle of Gatorade. Do you feel good after the ride? Not just your leg, but overall. You could be well hydrated, but not drinking enough during the ride.

Could also be a bike fit issue. Maybe some adjustments can make the climbs more comfortable.
Quote:
Originally Posted by JRSMAIL View Post
I got a killer thigh cramp on the DairyLand Dare that almost took me off the bike, leg locked straight.

I rarely get thigh cramps, but more calf ones. I have the Enduralytes from Hammer and have other things but yet to find the answer or fix all..
I do feel generally ok after the ride. Maybe slightly groggy is the best way I can describe it. Usually have a tuna sandwich, banana, gatorade/water on the drive home and feel pretty good by the time I arrive. Those nuun tabs and enduralytes you guys mentioned are supplements I'm interested in hearing about and want to give a try. And I may not be drinking enough during the ride but not quite sure how to gauge that. This last one I consumed 2L of water from the camelbak and about half of my water bottle.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MVRC51 View Post
Hey Chris, I thought I would try and help you out. We have a doctor on the forum. I posed the same question to him and this is what he had to say:

"This is actually pretty common. During my tenure at Johns Hopkins I was part of a research team that studied what was known during that time as pedicolditis among athletes. The most well known professional athlete to have this issue was Esera Tuaolo. During his years with the Geen Bay Packers, he constantly complained of the exact issue that you are having. We studied 300 athletes who competed at a college level who experienced the same symptoms you describe. Although we couldn't pinpoint the exact cause of the problem, we were able to narrow it down to a common denominator among the participants of the study. 100% of the participants ate spicy foods atleast once a week and absolutely loved sucking the cock." - Dr. Chunk MD
Thanks brah! You're always looking out for me!

-Chris
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post #6 of 22 (permalink) Old 08-27-2012, 01:47 PM
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You are putting in some good miles when you ride. I think you just need to ride more often. Take this shit seriously brah!
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post #7 of 22 (permalink) Old 08-27-2012, 02:42 PM
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Nuun is like a Gatorade, but without the calories. For long rides, you need the calories and extras from Gatorade (or other sports drinks with more stuff than Gatorade). You can google sweat rate calculators and get an idea of how much you should be drinking. You would need to weigh yourself before and after, may be kind of tough to get an accurate reading away from home.

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post #8 of 22 (permalink) Old 08-27-2012, 03:05 PM
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Take this for what it's worth but just the season I have begun to cramp on the SM - Forearms (not arm pump) and Quads - I started using the "Gatorade System" and it has helped a ton - The Pre Work Out and Post Work Out Drinks

I would come in from a Practice and cramp immediately - I always drink a ton of water the day before and the morning leading up to so I could not figure it out - Well, the little "Pre Game" drink thing has helped with it and the Post Drink too - Something to do with Calories and Carbs your body actually needs to stay strong that tend to get depleted in a work out or exercise

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post #9 of 22 (permalink) Old 08-29-2012, 07:24 PM
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Electrolyte deficiency, dehydration, or muscular endurance. Pick one.

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post #10 of 22 (permalink) Old 08-29-2012, 08:01 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
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Electrolyte deficiency, dehydration, or muscular endurance. Pick one.
I'm leaning towards electrolyte deficiency. I'm drinking straight water from the camelbak and very little from my bottle with a Gatorade/water mix. Was looking at my helmet last night and the straps are caked in salt.

There's a Hammer dealer near me that stocks endurolyte. I'm planning on riding Kettle Friday and will pick some up and give it a shot. Gatorade is just too sweet even watered down.

-Chris
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post #11 of 22 (permalink) Old 08-29-2012, 08:05 PM
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Most people don't drink Gatorade, myself included. Too sugary, and if you check out Hammer's info they don't have any sugar in their stuff. Gatorade makes me feel sluggish and bloated and not wanting to drink any more. I have been using NUUN tablets and love them. I put 2 in my camelbak with just water and use gels for calories and it's perfect for me. If I stay on top of electrolytes I don't cramp. The road race I did on Sunday I lost all my water bottles and had no water for the last 20 miles in 90 degree heat, and still didn't cramp. I had one water bottle during warmup with 1 tablet in it, and another bottle during the first half of the ride. Endurolytes work well too.

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post #12 of 22 (permalink) Old 08-29-2012, 09:18 PM
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This is making me laugh so hard! When it was like 100 for weeks straight is when I decided to get into mtn bikes. BOTH legs cramped so severely I crashed the first time at Palos coming up gravity cavity. Now I know the symptoms so I get off and stretch.

From the responses, I'm guessing beer and chicken wings isn't a good way to prepare for a long ride?

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post #13 of 22 (permalink) Old 08-31-2012, 04:20 PM Thread Starter
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So I gave nuun(lemon lime flavor) a try today. Tastes great and very refreshing! I liked the idea of just tossing the tabs in my camelbak(like Ken mentioned) instead of having to pop pills every so often. I know Hammer has a powder mix as well and also an endurolyte fizz which looks just like nuun but the store I went to didn't stock it anyway. Also gave gels a try and picked up a mix of flavors and brands.

I had today off and decided to travel up to Kettle this morning and ride the 22 mile course(2 blue loop laps + 1 brown loop) for the upcoming fall colors festival race. I have to say I probably felt the best I've ever felt on a ride this year so far. Between the gels and nuun I felt very fresh and had a constant supply of energy on tap for the whole ride. Thought I might actually make it through to the end without any signs of cramping but unfortunately that wasn't the case. Nothing major but had my left calf cramp up for a second while starting to climb in Hell's Kitchen. It was just for a second when I had to stand up at one part but went away as fast as it came. Then on the very last steep/short climb my quads were getting very tight and felt like they were going to lock up at any second. Had to get off the bike and walk up the rest of the way. Stretched for a minute and then made it the rest of the way back to my truck just fine. I checked my camelbak after I was done and found I only drank a little over half of a 3L reservoir. Felt like I drank much more than that.

Hydration/electrolyte replenishing aside I'm sure part of my issue could very well be due to muscular endurance. I've been pushing myself harder on each one of these weekly rides. I'm seeing gains from this but maybe the cramping is related? Lots to learn...

And the ride from today. http://connect.garmin.com/activity/217167505

My best average speed for the mileage at Kettle so far.

-Chris
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post #14 of 22 (permalink) Old 08-31-2012, 06:55 PM
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First thing is to not screw up hydration and nutrition and see what happens. If you still have problems, muscular endurance is most likely the culprit, and that will rectify itself with more riding and some hill work.

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post #15 of 22 (permalink) Old 08-31-2012, 08:17 PM
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Yep, Ken hit the nail on the head for it above.

When not thirsty, you should be drinking. If you wait till thirst it is already to late...

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post #16 of 22 (permalink) Old 09-20-2012, 12:43 PM Thread Starter
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Just an update. It appears my problem was related more to a saddle/seatpost adjustment I had made a couple months ago. I don't remember why I changed it in the first place.

Rode Kettle this past Saturday and ran into the same issues I've been having around the 15-18mile point with my quads starting to get pretty tight on the climbs. While taking a break to stretch I was looking at the bike and was reminded of the adjustment I had made. Thankfully I had marked my setpoints before moving anything. So to go back to my original settings it required raising the seatpost and sliding the saddle forward both aprox 1/2" each(haven't measured so that's my best guess). Seriously felt like I had a new set of legs after doing this! I made the remaining 12 miles back to Emma no problem. Was worried I would struggle with cramping on some of the hills at Emma towards the end of the ride but besides being thoroughly exhausted I had no issues. I then celebrated with a super buttery Culvers double cheeseburger on the way home. The end.

http://connect.garmin.com/activity/223054744

-Chris
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post #17 of 22 (permalink) Old 09-20-2012, 05:01 PM
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Less plain water and more cigarettes with nuun water. No cramping ever

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post #18 of 22 (permalink) Old 09-20-2012, 05:39 PM Thread Starter
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Less plain water and more cigarettes with nuun water. No cramping ever
I'll trade you some nuun tabs and embrocation for some smokes on our next ride if that's cool?

-Chris
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post #19 of 22 (permalink) Old 09-20-2012, 06:14 PM
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Try Ztm tabs, they worked for a one of the guys in out group who cramped all the time. Says they have more of everything as compared to nuun.
That along with a bottle of endurance works well over a long ride.
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post #20 of 22 (permalink) Old 09-20-2012, 06:16 PM
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Also consider parking down at the MTB staging area, you might meet people who know the area better than the old timers who park up at bullfrog
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post #21 of 22 (permalink) Old 09-20-2012, 07:39 PM
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post #22 of 22 (permalink) Old 09-21-2012, 03:03 PM
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I'll trade you some nuun tabs and embrocation for some smokes on our next ride if that's cool?
I don't think a nun would approve of the embrocation.
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