How to stop your calves cramping in a triathlon
Training > Beginners

Five ways to stop your legs cramping out of transition

Let our resident physio tackle the problem of calf cramp after T2

Have you started getting cramp in your legs when you exit T2, and already tried the obvious answers like a professional bike fit, regularly stretching, a foam roller and keeping well hydrated?

Don’t despair – here are a few other things you might consider to reduce your chances of cramp occurring: 

5 foods... that may prevent or ease cramp

   

Conditioning 

Fatigue and stress on a muscle group are believed to be common causes of cramp, so it’s important that you condition the lower leg muscles for the efforts of racing. 

As well as stretching, specific muscle endurance training is really useful. For your lower legs, this would be calf raises (with straight and bent legs, to target the two major muscle groups of the calf).

As an endurance athlete who has to race 10km, you should easily be able to achieve 3 x 25 single leg calf raises. Try to incorporate these into your training week.

Hydration

It would be useful to know how you’re assessing this. What and how much you sweat determines your hydration status. Some people are really salty sweaters, others aren’t.

What you sweat out is what you should be putting back in, so as well as water for mid-race hydration, try using some kind of electrolyte replacement too.

Training 

Your training should be race-specific and it’s always valuable to incorporate some T2 practice. Pick a hard bike session and then run off it (it doesn’t have to be the full 10km; 5–10mins of hard running will do).

This will ensure that your muscles have the capacity to deal with the change from cycling to running. It also encourages your lower-limb muscles to adapt to bike fatigue, a much different concept to run tiredness.

Footwear 

Practise running in your race shoes; it’s possible that your stride mechanics are slightly different in these shoes.

Medication 

Lastly, cramp can be a side effect of some medications, so consider whether this may be the case for you.

(Images: Jonny Gawler)

What do you find helps with calf cramp? Let us know in the comments below!


 
 

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Richie Thorpe

Moving the cleat as far back as possible also helps with calf cramp as it removes the strain from the lower leg. Speedplay have extender plates which positions the cleat around 20mm further back.

HarryD

And the evidence that dehydration or sodium loss causes exercise induced cramp is what? Thought so because there isn't any worth it's salt. More likely to be caused by the contract and relax muscle nerve signals getting out of sync. This has been observed in fatigued muscles

So stick to conditioning and race like training which will delay that fatigue.

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