Thursday, July 26, 2012

Weight Training for Cramps

This post takes up where my last post about cramps,  Muscle Cramps and Me, leaves off.

First, I'm happy to say "no cramps" lately. That being said...up until recently I was still feeling that my calf and hamstring muscles were still tight while riding, as long as I knew my limits they would be kind to me. I say "up until recently" because I feel that I have the upper hand on the dreaded cramp by adding resistance training to my conditioning routine.

Good nutrition (which sometimes I still mess up and get Bonked) and stretching are big players in avoiding cramps. But something was still not right! A couple of months ago I started paying attention to the fact that, while simply standing, I could not do a full and hard contraction of my calf or hamstring muscles without them threatening to cramp. For a lack of a better understanding it seems as though my muscles had developed a "cycling memory". Any contraction of my muscles beyond what is needed to spin pedals would bring on a cramp like tightness. Even though I've been riding for some time without a cramp my calf and hamstring muscles seemed to get tight early on in a ride. 

I though of my old weight training days and decided that a little resistance training might bring the ole muscles back into shape. All it took was a weeks worth of calf raises and hamstring leg curls using a simple elastic band to be able to do full contractions of my muscles without the fear of a cramp. It's been over a month now and it has made a marked difference in how I ride. The legs feels loose and I can push the pedals harder. I'm just about ready to join my son at the gym and really start working my legs with weights. 

2 comments:

  1. To me it seems strange that standing and doing a contraction gave you cramps but doing more strenuous exercises didn't

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    1. Strange is not the word...it was crazy and didn't make since that I couldn't do a full contraction of my hamstring and calf muscles without them feeling like they were going to cramp. I've come to find out that it is possible for our muscles to develop a memory from prolonged repetitive use that doesn't involve a full range of motion. When called upon to contract beyond what it as been "programmed" to do it is possible to feel a cramp like sensation.

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