Monday, 1 August 2011

How do you prevent cramp?

Riding to work again today led me to have cramp in my right foot.  I've had this before, not sure why.  What is strange is that it happened in exactly the same place approaching the same roundabout.

"This is weird" I thought and also potentially dangerous.  Getting cramp in my right foot, while riding along in SPDs and I couldn't easily twist my foot to release it from the pedal.

It got worse.  Then I had cramp in my LEFT foot at the same time!  There I was slowing down just before a roundabout which 90% of the time I have to stop.  Stopping means I have to release one foot, normally my left foot, simply to put my foot down and prevent me from falling over.  No option but to force my left foot to twist itself out and just as I did that the cramp stopped.

There were no cars after all so I re-engaged my foot and blasted on and both feet now felt looser.  Phew.

This really is strange.  Why does it happen?  Even more so, why in the same place?  I had ridden about 10 miles and just slowing down - is this significant in anyway?

It makes me appreciate my feet.  They get punished so much, all that running, cycling and just standing around.  I have broken a couple of toes in separate instances which healed quickly without problems.  Like hands, amazing structures but why do I get these cramps!?


  1. Hmm...Not sure what the reason may be for this may be but in the wider context, I dont think its too much to worry about.
    I somtimes get very numb hands and arms when on my bike and occasionaly get a bout of Foot cramp after running.
    Think its just one of those things but I have heard that eating somthing rich in Potassium such as a Banana before you go out may help.

  2. Many thanks. I've tried looking into this and there are many different possible reasons for cramps and I'm still none the wiser but yep, you're right bananas and their dose of potassium do get mentioned.
    You mentioned numb hands; what kind of grips or bar tape do you have? Do you use padded / gel mits and if so, does this make any difference?

  3. In reply to your question I just have a standard set-up on the bike(s)regarding the H/bar and tape and a pair of basic mits,nothing special.
    I rely on frequent changes of hand position to alleviate the discomfort and this seems to work for me.

  4. Thanks again. My bar tape and mitts are pretty standard too and thinking about it I do change position from time to time; for me that is one of the advantages of dropped bars. I've not had any numbness myself but I've heard others talk about that.
    Having a variety of handle bar positions is useful. I appreciate that when pulling up a hill, as well as being more aerodynamic going down on the other side. I think those combined brake/gear lever (STI?) that Shimano do look really comfortable and sometimes wonder if I should have got those instead of bar end shifters. Which do you have?

  5. I have the new combined changers on my bikes although mine are by campagnolo and I have to say they are IMO a substantial improvement over the old style of shifters. You can change up/down faster and have better control of the bike while doing so.
    The downside is that they are not as resilient as bar-end shifters and fixing them is considered by some as a bit of a 'Black art',in other words, difficult.
    I personaly think that you would find the Shimano STI set-up an improvement on the bar-end levers.