Can Pedaling Style Cause Calf Cramps?
I'm a 39-year-old former athlete, still in decent shape from speed- and
I'm also new to cycling. My progress is being stalled by calf cramps, and I've
been told that it's because
I "ankle" too much when I pedal. Is that straining my calves? -- Tom P.
Coach Fred Matheny Replies:
For some reason, leg cramps seem more prevalent in athletes like you
and me who have a high percentage of fast-twitch muscle fibers. I was a high
jumper and hurdler.
Endurance training on the bike for several seasons
will convert potentially cramp-prone fast-twitch fibers
to endurance-oriented fibers. But even after 30 years of riding, I don't think
my muscles have completely
gotten the message.
Maintaining sufficient sodium levels is the key to
preventing cramps, at least for me. Sufficient hydration
is usually essential, too. However, most studies indicate that cramps are
multi-factorial and remedies
that work for one person may not work for the next.
Too much emphasis on "ankling" (trying to exert
pressure on the pedal all the way around the stroke)
might be part of the problem. Fit factors, such as a saddle that's too high,
can play a role. Also, check the location of your cleats. If
they're forward, you may be pedaling too much "on your toes,"
which can unduly stress calf muscles. Try moving the cleats rearward to see if
For lots more about cramps and ways to prevent them, click
back to home page