The Pain of Cramping

By Peg Labiuk | 08/09/11

Photo © Cynthia Ann Lou/bicycle.net

We’ve teamed up with Marilyn Trout, certified USA Cycling Elite Coach to answer Voler Newsletter List members’ training questions. You can view her coach profile at http://www.linkedin.com/in/mountainpedalscoaching80903 Send your cycling inquiries to Marilyn, and for a limited time, if yours is selected to be answered in our Training column, Voler will send you a $20 gift certificate that can be used towards any purchase from the Voler Store at http://www.voler.com. To submit your inquiry, e-mail her at Marilyn@MountainPedals.net, and type “Voler Training Question” in the subject line of the e-mail.

Voler E-mail list member Bill Grandi is our 82nd winner of a $20 Voler gift certificate! His training question that follows was answered by Peg Labiuk (nee Peggy Maass), a colleague of Marilyn Trout, and a certified NCCP level 3 coach with a career in international road and track racing. She is a World Championship medalist, World Record holder, U.S. Olympic Team member, former British national team coach and Kreb's Cycle co-founder (British Columbia, Canada).

The Pain of Cramping

Coach,

Yesterday morning a friend and I headed over to our church camp to do some lawn work. For 3 hours I cut grass and he weed-eated. I was up and down sides of hills, leaning over with the mower, etc. It was not a self-propelled mower so all the work was mine. After a light lunch we rode 30 miles, up and down hills. I drank a 24oz bottle of water and 2 24oz Powerades while riding. I didn't eat right afterwards though and did not have a chance to massage.

Last night, after watching the Tour I was suddenly gripped by an intense muscle cramp in my left inner thigh. It was the longest most intense cramp I had ever experienced. Today it sore to the touch and it pains me to move or even try to lift my leg. What happened? It is also swollen where that muscle is. Was it not enough hydration? Is there some other explanation? Next question: what do I need to do to recover from it? IT turned black and blue, yellow and purple. The only other time I ever had anything like that is when I pulled a hamstring, and later a groin muscle playing softball. I had no trouble cycling that day and felt fine until that night when a giant cramp that lasted close to 5 minutes hit me.

Thanks for your time.
Bill Grandi

Hi Bill,

That sounds like a doozy of a cramp. I think it must have been strong enough to cause that bruising. I cramped a few weeks ago on a long, windy ride in that same muscle. It's painful and scary. I was fortunate in that it went away with stretching, consuming more Cytomax and Powerade, and taking Essential Electrolytes capsules by Nutribiotics. You were trying to hydrate, but had 3 hours of lawn mowing prior to riding that I suspect went without or with minimal fluid consumption. Not to mention the unusual activity of a cyclist pushing a lawn mower. So, another example of the lag time in taking in fluid and electrolytes and the delivery to the working muscles. Now you'll have to be extra vigilant about electrolytes and fluids (see prior Voler Answer about cramping for Bill Howard: http://www.voler.com/site/post.aspx?li=Ways-to-Avoid-Cramping). Treat that bruise as a serious injury - icing, using Arnica cream, and laying off until pain diminishes. I'd also suggest a self-propelled lawn mower. I prefer the Honda HRC 215. If anyone knows of one in good condition, I'm in the market.

Coach Peg

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