Cramping off of the bike, things to try?

Hello, thought I would try to get some ideas to help with some cramping I can get from time to time, OFF of the bike.
I have also got cramping on the bike, however, this I can understand could be the result of going too hard for too long, dehydration, not replacing enough salt, … this too I also want to address at some point as it has held me back in some Fondos and I want to sort this out before my next Fondo.

However, I am a bit more curious and puzzled about some cramping I can get when NOT on the bike. It is not so much that I DO cramp off the bike, but it is that I can induce a cramp through some muscle activation and when I feel a cramp coming on I then of course immediately stop what I was doing that initiated the cramping. Don’t get me wrong, I am not crazy flexing any muscle to try and get a cramp, but I can be doing something that requires a bit of exertion or contraction, and I can feel the cramp coming on. This can also happen in a range of different muscles, it could be my back, pecs, quads/hams/calves of course, …
I assume it could be the result of a previous hard workout earlier in the day or the day prior, however, maybe not.
I am curious if there are any easy suggestions for me to try that could improve this situation for myself.
Any suggestions or additional information that may help to troubleshoot this for me would be greatly appreciated.

Drink more water.

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Are you stretching the areas that cramp off the bike. I rarely cramp on the bike but if I don’t stretch of the calves they cramp up or go sore in the middle of the night (DOMS).

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Cramping is such a tough topic.

I had unexplained cramps for the longest time on and off the bike. I ended up keeping a detailed diary and narrowed it down to lack of sleep.

So my advice? Take a nap and/or keep a detailed diary on your habits, schedules, food, liquid, etc. The more detailed the better. Try and find a common thread.

+1. My off bike cramping is usually after I forgot to stretch after a ride. Everyone is different, but I know that this is important for me.

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Thank you for the replies.
It definitely be that I don’t drink enough water (for both on and off the bike cramps) as I tend to not drink regularly. On the bike I am better than off the bike. I tried to drink 4L a day but that didn’t last long as I found it hard to track and just to keep drinking. Maybe I should try again.
Stretching post ride is good for sure. However, it doesn’t really explain how I can also get my lats and pecs to cramp when I am contracting them doing something like reach, stretching for something, …
Diary is another good suggestion to look for patterns.

Some advice here from Flamme Rouge!

Extra magnesium!!

Im going to throw this back out. I know what causes cramping on the bike for me. Too hard, too fast and I will prob never catch those rabbits.
This is about off the bike cramping after a hard ride that was cramp less. I do all the right things. Stretch, nutrition, water ect… Tried this and that, magnesium, elecrolites, mustard, and all the things suggested. Even exercises that strengthen my vastus medialis. This is the one that is the problem. I can move around all day and nothing. Then relaxing on the couch for an hour or so, I go to get up and bingo the muscle says I will contract but im not going to release until you scream in pain. The spouse asks; need some pickle juice honey?
I am not sure this is a safety feature to prevent the muscle from injury. Like on the bike cramps.
Any futher research , ideas ect…?

You need Sodium. I take LMNT


More sodium and carbohydrates during workout !!

Do not take magnesium during training… Take magnesium in the evening, before going to bed

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Get up slower. Your muscle is tired and can’t react as quickly as normal to changes in demand. Maybe the blood flow is affected too, if you’ve sat with your legs up or your feet crossed, or just sat in one position for a while.

Maybe a second round of very light stretching or just moving around is needed once you have cooled down (an hour or so after finishing your ride).

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I’m a perennial cramp sufferer, on and off the bike. I’ve frequently completed hard workouts and races without cramps, only to leap from the couch in agony 4+ hours later, for no apparent reason.

After much trial and error, I’ve found the following to be most helpful, in order of benefit:

Fuel on the bike - the more I can cram in my face during the ride, the less I suffer after. One theory of cramping is depleted glycogen stores (mentioned on one of the TR podcasts) and I’m a firm believer (n=1). Fueling more (100g/hr for hard rides) reduced my on-bike cramping by 90%, and my post ride cramps by probably 50% or more.

Electrolytes - I’m a very salty sweater, and once I cranked the electrolyte in my bottles to high levels, most of the rest of the cramps stopped. I also will sometimes drink an additional bottle after the ride is done if it was particularly sweaty, or I wasn’t fully hydrated going into it.

Stillness off the bike, after the ride - I find that if I’m parked on the couch, or go to bed shortly after the ride (winter training is often in the evening), I’m much more likely to cramp than if keep moving for a while, even intermittently. Walking for a few steps every few minutes for the first 60-90 min after the ride seems to help.

Good luck in finding what ultimately works for you.



I too sweat a lot. I do use electrolyte caps on long rides. I will try to increase that and see if I can stomach more carbs. Too many gels and I feel like puking. Maybe I will try that Maurten stuff.