Biking Cramps: How To Prevent And Treat Them

If you’ve ever dealt with a cramp during a bike ride, you know that it can sabotage your ride, and leave some lingering soreness and pain afterwards -- none of which are ideal.

Although cramps are still somewhat of a mystery in many ways, there are some things you can know about them, along with how to prevent them from happening, and what to do if you come down with one. 


While the exact causes of cramping are still debated, there are some main culprits that seem to be behind the majority of them.

  • ​Fatigue - Pushing your body when it’s lacking in energy, or when you are already tired can trigger cramps on a regular basis.
  • ​Overworking - Just as with pushing through when you are out of energy, putting too much of a load on your body can trigger cramps as well. This can include attempting to race at higher intensities than you’ve been training for, or exerting too much effort when hitting hard parts of a ride, like a steep climb.
  • ​Dehydration - The most well-known cause of cramping seems to be dehydration. Trying to get your muscles to work without the proper amount of fluids is a very common and frequent cause behind cramps.
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    Lack of Sodium - Sometimes too much water intake can throw off your sodium levels, which many believe to be a cause of cramping. Sports drinks with electrolytes often have added sodium to help with this issue.


Preventing cramps from occurring is actually fairly simple for the most part, although still not guaranteed.


Remember to keep a steady flow of fluids during your rides. Don’t wait until you’re extremely thirsty to drink. Take small drinks on a regular basis, preferably with a sports drink with protein and electrolytes ever so often as well.


As we mentioned earlier, pushing yourself too hard can trigger cramps. Try to stay within your usual training pace, and don’t try to go all out during harder parts of the ride.


There are some things you can do to treat a cramp if it occurs during a ride.

Calf cramps can often be relieved by simply dropping your heel down when reaching the bottom of your pedal stroke. This allows for a slight stretch, and places emphasis on an area away from the cramp.

For cramps that occur on the front of the thigh, take your foot on the affected leg and raise it toward your backside while coasting. Stretch your quad muscles by gently pulling on that foot with your hand.

During either of these scenarios, keep your pedaling on an easier gear for a minute or two afterwards to get reacclimated, and avoid triggering another cramp.


Cramps can be unavoidable at times, but by using the tips above, you can do your best to help keep them from occurring, and also address them when they do.

Either way, here’s to cramp-free riding. Good luck!

This post was last updated on September 21st, 2018 at 02:27 pm

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