Something feared by all cyclists, cramp is an acute muscle pain caused by the involuntary contraction of muscle which can prevent physical activity for anywhere between a few minutes and couple of hours.
There are many cause of cramping so we have to act on all of them to prevent it from happening.
There are many nutritional products (such as food supplements) that prevent the occurrence of cramp but it will do little good if we neglect other factors.
1. Muscle tiredness.
This is one of the most important factors. Muscle fatigue occurs when the level of physical activity does not correspond to the level of preparation of the cyclist, i.e. overextending ourselves. We have to train our muscles to withstand a certain level of fatigue, as if we don’t then we are punishing certain muscular groups which cause cramp.
2. Accumulation of lactic acid.
Lactic acid is produced as a result of the decomposition of glucose. Essentially it is the “residue” that leaves our muscles as it “burns” the glucose it needs to function and get energy. Cycling is an intense and prolonged activity and if our body doesn’t have time to eliminate lactic acid, it accumulates and results in fatigue. The only way to avoid the accumulation of lactic acid is through training, so that our body can learn how to deal with it.
The lack of water intake and excessive sweating can give rise to dehydration, especially in the summer. It is essential to drink water during cycling this should be done on a continuous basis (even if we are not thirsty we must drink about 150ml of water every 20-30 minutes).
It is important to maintain a balanced diet so that we have the energy deposits to deal with intense activity. While exercising it’s also important to eat food that keeps our glucose levels up.
It is important not skip any of these steps, as by doing this you’ll increase the chances of muscle cramp during your routes or workouts. Don’t forget that cramps may also appear after exercise, the coast isn’t clear just because you’ve reached the end of your route!