How to avoid cramps
Most of us has probably already been there, while halfway through your training session your legs starts cramping. A horrible and painful feeling, especially if you have 20 kilometers of headwind home still, because it is hard to recover from one in a small span of time.
So how do you avoid it, you probably ask. We have gathered a few helpful tips that will lower the chance of you getting cramps meanwhile working out, right below.
Stretching out before the training session is one of the most efficient ways of preventing cramps. That is due to,that you “prepare” the tendons and muscles for the workout. Just stretch your leg for 15-20 seconds each, and repeat if you feel it is necessary.
Make sure your legs are warm
Another bad thing to do, which can tricker cramps, is that your legs are getting cold. On a bike, that is rather easy, because you ride a lot of wind up due to the speed you are achieving on the bike. Cold muscles and tendons cannot stretch as well, as when they are warm, so you will have a much bigger chance of getting cramps if your legs are cold. Also, make sure your legs are warmed up before you start on intervals or other hard types of training.
Dehydration is another big factor of making your legs cramping. If your body is dehydrated, you will feel more ill after the workout, and it can tricker cramps during the workout too. When you sweat you lose a lot of water, so every few minutes, remember to get some water, because you do carry the bottles with water anyway. A big size 750ml bottle, should only last between 1 to 1,5 hours depending on how hard a workout you are having.
When sweating you do not just lose water, but also salt and electrolytes. It is not scientifically proven that losing Potassium, Magnesium or Calcium can tricker cramps, but a lot of people will agree, that if you put some salt tablets in your bottles of water, they rarely get cramps compared to not doing it. I have the same experience on that point. My personal favorite is the High5 Zero tablets, which can come in some different flavors. Putting in salt tablets will also make you recover faster from your workout, so there is literally no point in not doing it, apart from the price. An alternative is to get a salty meal before going out on the training session.
Avoid working out when you are sick
If your body is far from prepared for a training session, like being sick, you are probably in for a really bad time. When you are sick, you are often lacking a lot of minerals, like what was mentioned above, because you probably eat and drink less when you are sick. So listen to your body before starting on your workout.
Avoid heavy training if you are not in shape
There is nothing like thinking you were in the same shape as last year, even though you have not been training much the past few months. So be realistic and stop thinking you are superman from day 1, because you will not be that. Either you will drive yourself out in a few kilometers, or your legs will start cramping because they are not used to working out on that level anymore. In addition, do not increase the time nor intensity of the workouts too fast, because your body needs to have the time to adapt to longer and harder workouts. Remember, It is a lot easier to keep in shape, than to get in shape.
What if my legs are cramping anyway?
If that is the case, stretch out, and make sure your tendons are stretched out too. It will hopefully make the cramps go away for enough time for you to get home. However, remember, if it happens once, you are doing one or more things above wrong, and it can easily happen 5 minutes later. So when you get home, try to think of any of the reasons above that could be the course, and try to find out how you can avoid it.
Written by René