Without fail, if the ride is more than 2hrs + I will develop a cramp in my inner right thigh.
All my rides are solo
All involve a structured workout
All are a hardish ride 160-200+TSS
Tried all electrolyte strategies and fuelling/Hydration etc
Tried all “magic cramp fix solutions”
I have a left/right imbalance 55-45
Long ride only once a week or every second week
I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s simply muscle fatigue.
Aerobically I always feel fine, and have energy to spare but I feel like my legs are letting me down.
Do I simply need to do more lengthly rides?
Famous quote “shut up legs”.
Sounds like over use.
You will have to strengthen that muscle and perhaps incorporate other muscles to help out.
A couple of things I’ve incorporated after suffering some inner thigh cramps. It could also be that my legs have got used to it!
Stretching afterwards. I stand up, cross one foot in front of other, and then do side stretches, sliding my hand sideways down one leg, then back up and down the other leg. Then cross the other foot.
Putting some extra salt in my drink mix. I already put an electrolyte fizzy tablet in but the salt helped.
Protein shakes afterwards as well. With preparation I drink that whilst I’m doing the stretches.
Hope that helps!
Is it the adducter, sartorius, or the vastus medialis?
Do your knees track in straight lines, even under fatigue?
I think depending on the muscle the cause might be more apparent.
For me one way to help prevent issues for long ‘slower’ rides is to pedal while standing every 15-20 minutes, hips forward to stretch out the hip flexors/sartorius and to put a heavier burden on my quads. Typically I’ll feel a bit of a stretch and I’ll do it until the vastus medialis starts to burn a bit.
It also gives me a chance to square up on my saddle and bring my pelvis back in line.
You didn’t mention how often do you do lengthy rides, so it’s impossible for us to answer the question, yet. How often?
Given that you mention all of these are hardish and structured, I wonder if it wouldn’t help to do longer Z2 rides, if only to see how those feel. Though there may certainly be some issue with the muscle you’re describing. Without a lot more data, though, this could be anything–even a bike fit issue.
Have you counted the MG of postassium your taking the day of the ride or for the matter every day? I used to have similar issues, once I got my Potassium straight I pretty much got rid of the cramps. I was shocked to learn that RDA of potassium is 3,500-4,500mg. And almost no electrolyte I know of come close to putting enough Potassium in the mix IMO.
Longer ride once every weekend, but only 2hrs + every other.
Always constant power (very small coasting if any)
I have done a handful of Z2 longer rides, all ok. But as I’m only getting out for a longer ride once a week I like to stretch my legs.
@therealemm it’s the abductor magnus,
Yes, standing up and the change in position is refreshing and feels good, I incorporated this strategy in my last 100km ride, but once the cramping begins standing up exasperates it.
Often the cramps will begin immediately as I get out of the saddle - although this is combined with attacking a hill and a big effort…
I’m getting much better at managing it, at the first sign/twinge I immediately take it easy. But this signals the end of anymore efforts and I need to link home.
I used to carry on but this would result in both legs cramping and I would be crawling on the ground next to my bike in agony…
I’m not sure about how my knee tracks, probably need to record myself or get an opinion. In have notice my saddle tends to lean more to the left maybe signaling a pelvic twist or incorrect seating position
I am doing 1 DIY capsule loaded with potassium occasionally and it certainly seems to be helping.
However; potassium is also something that can be too high.
The OP might want bloodwork, initially and occasionally.
@davemac No, I haven’t really played much with potassium levels, I was of the understanding that this was not a mineral that would be lost at any significant levels through sweating.
I get more than enough sodium 1500mg/hr on long rides and 80-100g/hr of carbs
I found sodium and even magnesium certainly helped prevent any post exercise cramps like in the middle of the night etc
But I’ve always experienced cramps, even as a child. I get them in my feet and hamstrings when swimming 45min + too
@tfelds - yes, I’m sure my position could be improved.
I’m not the most flexible and my hip flexors could certainly be better.
My riding position is likely too aggressive due to the previous owner slamming and cutting the front stem.
@Pipipi - thanks, yes need to do more stretching. Post ride cramps non existent. It’s only towards the end of longer rides
@TrekCentury - yes, I need to do more single leg exercises ion my right leg, especially to help with imbalance.
This may also improve my pedalling form etc…
As per @Dr_Alex_Harrison hydration mix/tab manufacturers err on the low side when they put sodium in their concoctions. I figured this out by using the fine Doctor’s App which has the sodium content of most popular hydration/fueling products already loaded in the app, then suggests how much additional sodium (preferably sodium citrate, but table salt if you must) you need to add to your hydration mix.
I won’t say that I never cramp anymore, but when I do, it’s usually because I didn’t start fully hydrated in the first place because it’s not like you can actually “catch up” during a ride or run.
I had quite some problems with cramps and knees, which stopped when I started stretching as follows:
Stand up on bike - pedals level. Go with one hand to the toes of front leg while keeping legs stretched.
In the beginning I needed to do this 3 times a day and now I do 1 minute stretches before each bike ride only.
I used to regularly get cramp on my left thigh at about the 2 hour mark in road races. Part of that I can probably put down to trying to get through 60 mile races just on water . 4 hour+ steady endurance rides were no problem but had problems road racing at around the 2 hour mark.
So, nutrition and intensity issues aside, I saw a bike fitter and (I’m paraphrasing how I understood what he told me here and it was a few years ago now) he saw that my left hip was sort of collapsing/folding through the stroke rather than being stable through the stroke. Was due to the muscles across the lower back, that help hold both sides of the pelvis stable, potentially being weak. He gave me some glute bridge type exercises to do but with the heel of my foot on the wall rather than the floor. I think it probably made a difference, but I didn’t get many road races done after the bike fit before I broke my hip.
So a few years of single leg exercises - various glute/hip/hinge and core exercises firstly as rehab and then just a regular part of my training routine, I think have probably sorted my thigh cramping.
But despite no-one truly being able to pinpoint why cramp happens, simplistically I see it as it happening due to doing something more intense than you (one) are used to. So either longer rides at a lower intensity, or targeted strength could help. To my mind cramp is the body’s way of trying to protect itself, so it’s usually an intensity issue.
If I read this wrong then apologies, but obviously don’t just do single leg exercises on the one weak side. Do both sides to the same intensity/repetitions/sets (etc) and ultimately they should balance out.