Avoid muscle cramps on the bicycle
One of the major fears of cyclists is to experience muscle cramps, due to the severe pain they cause and the impression of feelings as if the muscles were tearing apart. It is common to hear on a route somebody saying "my legs are casting fire ", referring to the sensation prior to cramping or while suffering one. This pain is caused by the involuntary contraction of the muscle, which prevents them from continuing riding for minutes and even sometimes for hours.
Cramps are generated for different reasons, and knowing them, could help us to avoid them. One of the main factor is exhaustion or muscle fatigue, which appears when you reach high levels of demand for which our body is not habituated. To avoid this, we must have a prior preparation according our physical capabilities and that should increase gradually, accustoming the body to resist increasing levels of fatigue and stress.
It is also important to learn how to understand the body and the route we are undertaking, allowing us the possibility to identify the rhythm of pedaling what we require in accordance with the chosen gear ratio. Many times, a little higher pedaling cadence is preferable to avoid great muscular efforts, for example if we know that a high climb awaits us, we must shift to the proper gear with anticipation and assume that we will climb slowly until reaching the top.
It is important to adapt the intensity of the activity to a level according with our preparation. The rhythm of pedaling, the chosen development and the level of effort must be consistent with the training performed, otherwise, fatigue and muscular cramps will appear. A higher pedaling cadence is preferable to avoid making our muscles work excessively.
In sports like cycling, which demand high resistance and long periods of time, the body consumes glucose through a metabolic process, leaving as residue, lactic acid, which presents a second factor to take into account. Regular training again, will lead us to prepare for this situation, getting our body to establish measures and mechanisms to maintain the necessary levels.
The body works as having its own memory, it adjusts to environment and functional situations, this is why sudden changes can cause shortness of breath, but with time, that feeling disappears, because the body manages to adapt.
The third factor that promotes the appearance of cramps is dehydration, produced mainly by the lack of water intake and excessive sweating, which increases exponentially in heating times. Therefore, consumption of water or isotonic drinks that replenishes mineral salts during exercise is key. For a cyclist the right amount is approximately 150 ml of liquid every 20 or 30 minutes. Resting is also essential to avoid muscle fatigue.
We must then, take care of our physical activity and rest properly the night before; avoiding activities that demand or stress our muscles. It is also advisable to perform massages frequently, since they favor blood supply and muscle recovery.
The last factor is food. Our recommendation is to keep a balanced diet that allows us to maintain adequate energy deposits, for example, fruit consumption such as bananas, helps us to increase potassium, essential for muscular recovery.
Finally, it is important to perform stretches before and after physical activity, which benefits us with muscle conditioning and recovery.