Fast Talk podcast, ep. 26: Cramping myths debunked

For almost a century, we've been told that cramping is caused by electrolyte imbalance or bad hydration. That may be wrong.

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The VeloNews Fast Talk podcast is your source for the best advice and most interesting insight on what it takes to become a better cyclist. Listen in as VeloNews columnist Trevor Connor and editor Caley Fretz discuss a range of topics, including training, physiology, technology, and more.

For decades (almost a century, in fact), we’ve been told that cramping is caused by electrolyte imbalance or bad hydration. But new science suggests that this probably isn’t why you cramp during exercise.

So why do you cramp? It all comes down to something called altered neuromuscular control. And how do you stop it? Well, that’s where things get even trickier. We called up the world’s leading athletic cramping expert to find out.

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Schwellnus, M. P., Derman, E. W., & Noakes, T. D. (1997). Aetiology of skeletal muscle ‘cramps’ during exercise: a novel hypothesis. J Sports Sci, 15(3), 277-285. doi: 10.1080/026404197367281
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Shang, G., Collins, M., & Schwellnus, M. P. (2011). Factors associated with a self-reported history of exercise-associated muscle cramps in Ironman triathletes: a case-control study. Clin J Sport Med, 21(3), 204-210. doi: 10.1097/JSM.0b013e31820bcbfd
Wagner, T., Behnia, N., Ancheta, W. K., Shen, R., Farrokhi, S., & Powers, C. M. (2010). Strengthening and neuromuscular reeducation of the gluteus maximus in a triathlete with exercise-associated cramping of the hamstrings. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther, 40(2), 112-119. doi: 10.2519/jospt.2010.3110

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