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Real Life Fitness Questions Answered

Kelly Marshall
Fitness Consultant

Posted 14 May 10

Why do I get cramp in my toes when im cycling?

Hi, I have just started cycling and notice that after a few miles I get cramp in my toes, it can be quite painful, if I keep cycling it goes away , but then comes back later will this just wear off with experience or is it something wrong with my technique.

Our expert says...

 

Hi,

 

You need to consider the following as various factors can cause / contribute to cramp during cycling:

 

- Footwear used with cycling – footwear that allows too much movement during the pedalling process can put excessive stress through the calves and foot which could result in tightening of the muscles in the foot or leave the toes clawing to try and get grip.

 

- the set up of the bike – seat height and handlebar height – bike biomechanics are crucial as a bike not set up properly for the individual can leave some muscle groups over working while others are less efficient.

 

- Hydration levels – dehydration is associated with cramping so consider water intake and try and avoid alcohol intake the day/night before a cycle ride

 

- General muscle tension – calves are vulnerable to tightness with cycling and if your calves are tight anyway from other exercise or lifestyle stresses than an increased tension through cycling may cause decreased blood flow to the toes resulting in cramping and pins and needles symptoms. Ensure regular stretching after exercise and ideally consider getting sports massage to rule out the potential influence of muscle tension on your symptoms.

 

- cycling technique – while cycling try pushing your heel fully down at the bottom of the pedalling action to give your calves a small active stretch and provide an increased nutrient delivery to the toes, this may help prevent or alleviate symptoms as you cycle.

 

It may be a matter of trial and error but consider the following elements and try to discount them one by one and you will see what factor(s) are resulting in your cramping.

 

Hope this helps,

 

Kelly