Try these three steps to help soothe the spasm. – By Selene Yeager
Let’s be clear …
The best way to cure a cramp is to prevent a cramp. For most riders, that means not jumping into a race or hard ride way above your ability, as cramps are nearly always the unwelcome byproduct of working muscles beyond their current fitness and endurance level. But that does you no good when you’re halfway up Heartbreak Hill and you feel the unmistakable, painful pangs of muscles gone mad. Now what?
Pop an Eno.
Your body uses calcium to maintain healthy muscle contraction. Eno’s, which contains a healthy dose of the mineral, has been a favourite product of long-distance cyclists for years. “Some people also swear by CrampEase, which is a combination of minerals – magnesium, potassium, calcium, and sodium – that help with muscle contraction,” says Stacy Sims, PhD, an exercise physiologist and nutritionist at Stanford University School of Medicine.
Reduce the workload.
A cramp is essentially your muscles’ cry for help. Calm it down by backing off a bit and giving your body a breather. “Change your position on the saddle to recruit different muscles and reduce the load on the ones that are fatiguing,” says Sims, “and slow down.” Nobody wants to do that. But slowing is better than coming to a screeching halt.
Take a deep breath and stretch.
If those clenching fibres just won’t calm down, you may need to stop, breathe, and stretch during your ride. Ease into it, so you don’t make matters worse. Take a deep breath and stretch, exhaling fully as you gently press through your muscles for a few seconds. Inhale as you release and repeat as needed.