Help needed to keep me on track

I’m looking for some help.

Randomly i get muscle cramps in my quads sometime both while doing something very light like walking 100meters. I feel it building up as I walk until my legs are solid and can no longer bend them. The cramp/pain eases off after about a minute once I’ve stopped.

I’m on top of my nutrition and hydration and have just bought some salt tablets to see if these will help. Has anyone got any other suggestions or reasons why this is happening?

Thanks, Ben

Have you contacted your doctor? Have they done labs?

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Thanks for the reply. No I haven’t, not sure if you know much about the local doctors in Wales but I be lucky to even get past the door keep at reception before christmas. Is this something I could do privately? If so what do I ask for?

I know nothing about doctors availability in wales, but I’ll say the link between cramps and electrolytes is suspect. Typically cramping for athletes is related to fitness levels and pushing yourself beyond your fitness. In your case, you’re hardly pushing past your limits on an light walk, so I think a doctor would want to see you. They need to rule out any neurological issues, cardiovascular issues, or any other more serious issues.

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This is not medical advice, but I agree with Russell.r.sage and I would also get blood for calcium, sodium, potassium, and magnesium. Cramping with minimal activity is a sign that something is wrong. I wouldn’t ignore this. I have no idea what care is like in Wales, but I think the magic words to get you into the clinic would be something like “I am having cramps with minimal activity and I’m concerned that I have either a neurologic disorder or an electrolyte abnormality.” Bottom line is that I wouldn’t ignore this.


Thanks for your advice gents. Yes this is well within my fitness window with an FTP of 5.5watts/kg. And that the issue. This comes and goes. No cramping in any other part of my body which started me thinking whether is was neurologic issue, like a trapped nerve, possible Meralgia paresthetica (also known as lateral femoral cutaneous nerve entrapment) or maybe a sciatica.

Read through this thread: Extreme quadriceps starting pain after 3-4 rest days | Cyclingnews Forum

If this does sound familiar, it’s not cramps, but something much more serious and can lead to rhabdomyolysis. Cause is still not clear, but it seems to be an unknown glycogen storage disease.

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@pnzr you are a star! Am not alone!!! This happened a few months ago when I got injured and now I had to be off the bike for work commitments but never even thought they could be linked. Looks like I’ve got a lot of reading ahead of me and hopefully someone has some answers at the end of that thread.

Spoiler warning: despite muscle biopsies, genetic testing, every neurologic test imaginable, noone has an definite answer. I’m also one of the sufferers under this condition (username Golden in the thread) with a particular bad case as it seems. My bouts last for anything between one and two weeks and during this time I’m bound to my appartment as walking stairs or more than a few hundred meter on the flat leads to extreme pain and muscle damage (with the potential of kidney damage due to rhabdo).
But there are also milder cases. You should definitely get your creatine kinase and liver parameters get checked when you have an episode.

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Sorry to hear you suffer with it realty bad. Tried again today to ride but with no joy. Even if I get my creatine kinase and liver parameters checked what can actually be done with the information?

Nothing really, but at least you know it’s not your ordinary cramp.
As I said, high creatine kinase values are very very bad for your kidneys and can lead to life-threatening issues. Make sure to read up on Rhabdomyolysis. Also make sure to stay well hydrated and watch your urine. Once it’s starting to look more like tea/coke/blood go to the hospital immediately.

There are a few things you can do to lower the risk of future episodes, but in my experience they still can happen even if you take precautions:

  1. Don’t take too many rest days consecutively, especially after a period with high volume and/or high intensity. For me, one bike completely off the bike is OK, two and it’s getting risky.
  2. Be somewhat active even on rest days (go for a walk, do some work around the home or garden etc), don’t spent the whole day on the couch.
  3. There seems to be some correlation with carb consumption. So best limit your carb intake on rest days and on days with low intensity and don’t go completely overboard on days with high intensity/long endurance rides. No problem fueling your rides with junk carbs, but I’d advise a balanced diet off the bike.
  4. If you catch an episode really early it’s possible to ride through it and completely avoid it. This can be very painful and probably does some damage to the muscle, but in my experience it’s better than having a full blown episode. Once you feel an episode coming on, get on your bike and start pedaling at or above your threshold, keep cadence low (60-70) and torque high. If you are lucky, you will feel it coming on but your legs won’t tie up completely. Once you start feeling the pain fading a bit, you can lower power and raise cadence. Keep riding for at least an hour. Your legs will feel sore, a bit like really bad DOMS, but the episode will be avoided and you can ride and walk normally the following days.

All this advice comes from my experience. I’m not an medical expert.

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Thank you!! It really is a terrible thing to be having and mentally tough. Once I’m back on the bike i will try my best never to have two days off the bike again. It real is baffling why this is triggered from having too much in activity. But it’s not like we are off the bikes for a crazy amount of time. But i’m now a bit more clued up on it all and before speaking to you and reading that post I didn’t even make the time off the bike link. I was more thinking about a trapped never as I sit for long periods at a desk.

Since you said you are at 5.5 w/kg, I’m a bit curious: do you feel like you “earned” that level of fitness or do you feel naturally gifted?

I’m asking because when I started cycling I was at 4 w/kg and after one year of training I’m sitting at almost 5 w/kg. No prior experience in endurance sports. Since others spend years to get to that level, I was wondering if maybe some gene defect is giving us a benefit when it comes to aerobic metabolism at the cost of having these episodes. I also have a hunch that I’m very high on slow twitch muscle fibres, as I have almost no sprint (at 300w FTP never even came close to 1000w). Do you feel it’s the same for you?

Umm I’d say both. I joined the Royal Marines straight from school at 16. But have been training and playing a lot of sports from the age of 10. Granted being in the marines helped develop my endurance but I was a fast runner and also quick off the mark. Which is pretty much how I am on the bike. I have a high FTP but also a high sprint power 1160watts average for 15sec and 11.2w/kg 1min power. I’m not writing these numbers to brag but to give you an understanding as you asked. you can see some of my zwift races on youtube (
I’ve been cycling for 7 years now and as you can imagine done a lot of crazy fitness activities with the marines that never brought this on. For some reason in my head I keep thinking is it something that we are all lacking. Like some sort of mineral.

So a little update…

I’m back in the game. Yesterday morning I was 10 minutes in before the dreaded pain kicked in so I had to get off the bike. After reading through a lot of peoples comments I thought I would try again in the evening with much better success. I got on the bike didn’t warm up and just went straight into 3-4mns of standing efforts with 1 minute recovery at just over FTP. Not ideal straight from cold but it has done the trick. Got on the bike this morning and got a sweet spot / threshold workout done. Hopefully I’m through it now and won’t be planning to have more than a day off the bike again.

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