Cycling is considered one of the physical activities that are more likely to instigate cramps. Doctors are still uncertain regarding the exact cause of the cramps, but dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, muscle fatigue and lack of stretching are potential contributing factors.
In uncommon cases, an underlying health condition is usually responsible for the cramps. Most cases of cramps can be prevented with the help of simple measures. On the other hand, if the individual develops cramps consistently while cycling, a doctor should be consulted for proper assessment as well as rule out an underlying health condition.
What you need to know about cramps?
A cramp is described as a strong, involuntary muscle contraction that does not relax. For minor cases of cramps, they do not usually persist for a long time and can cause minor annoyance. As for severe cramps, they can be painful and persist for several minutes or hours.
When it comes to severe cramps, they can also trigger the muscles to knot and form lumps. An individual can end up with cramp on any muscle, but the calf and thigh are the commonly affected areas. The cramps can also occur in the hands, feet as well as abdomen and ribcage region.
Remember that anyone can end up with cramps, but they typically occur among athletes who engage in endurance events.
What are the usual causes?
Even though the exact cause of cramps is not determined, dehydration is often listed as a possible cause especially if the individual engages in cycling under warm temperatures. Electrolytes such as magnesium, sodium, calcium and potassium are minerals that conduct electricity as well as help with muscle contraction.
Once the individual lacks electrolytes in the blood either due to profuse sweating or insufficient nourishment from the diet, he/she can end up with cramps. When an individual takes part in an endurance event and not in proper shape, it can lead to muscle fatigue which causes the muscles to weaken and prone to cramping. Lack of stretching before biking can cause the same effect. In rare circumstances, a medical condition that affects the metabolism or nerves can be considered as the cause.
If the individual experiences cramps in the calf during a ride, he/she should stand on the bike and drop his/her heel to stretch out the muscle. Remember that cramps on the front part of the thigh can be managed by moving the thigh backwards towards the buttocks.
Stretching might be painful but it helps the muscles relax and should put a stop to the cramping. It is recommended to drink small sips of water. The application of heat after a ride can help relieve the cramp by allowing the muscles to relax. Once the muscle is sore or tender, applying an ice pack is a suitable approach. In case the cramps persist or accompanied by chills or dizziness, he/she must rest and seek medical care since this might be a heat stroke.