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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Had to take about 3 months off due to a medical issue and am again trying to get ready for my first (sorta) endurance race. Prior to taking the time off I noticed, and upon my return it has become more pronounced, repetitive cramping at the top of my calf (ie. "back of the knee"). I NEVER cramp anywhere else which suggests to me it isn't electrolytes. I'm thinking it is one, or a combination of, the following:

1) fitness (but I can't see that I've lost THAT much in 3 months as I did suffer some before the hiatus)
2) electrolytes (but I normally down a bottle of G2 before and during my ride - not enough?)
3) improper stretching (but I stretch well before my rides)
4) seat placement (it has been suggested I should slide my saddle back b/c there is too much stress on that location of my calf on the up-stroke).

Any comments, suggestions, thoughts on this

Thanks in advance....
 

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Doesn't sound like a cramping problem, but a muscle strain problem. The calf muscles and hamstring muscles cross behind the knee. Those and a couple of smaller muscles flex the knee. This could be aggravated by too much seat height or any situation where you are reaching for the bottom of your stoke. I think sliding your saddle back would increase your symptoms, not alleviate them. You might also play with the position of your cleat i.e. moving it towards your heal.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Hey, thank you kindly for your response.

I think the seat height is OK. The shop where I purchased it helped me with that and based on all that I've read it is fine - not rocking - not reaching, etc.

The cleat position is an interesting thought that I didn't consider. I'm now riding a 29er and b/c I thought the tire was close to my shoe tip I slid the cleat forward (to allow my foot to be back some on the pedal). I'm going to try that but will also examinie my seat position.

Thanks for the suggestion - any others welcome.
 

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Sounds like a bike fit issue that is causing muscle strain, which is causing cramping. There is some pretty good research that suggests that cramping may have more to do with muscle strain than a lack of electrolytes.

Anyway, I would try moving your cleats back a few millimeters and correspondingly lower your saddle a few millimeters and see if that helps. I know for me positioning my cleats so that the pedal axle is about 10mm behind the ball of my foot helped with cramping in my calves by forcing me to use my quads more and calves less. I would suggest making only incremental changes. The problem may also just be a seat that is too high. It is amazing how a change of even a few millimeters can make a difference.

Steve Hegg who provides some bike fit answers for cyclingnews is a big proponent of positioning the axle behind the ball of the foot to better utilize the big quad muscles - just how much depending on the size of your foot. Of course he also likes the extreme mid-foot cleat placement (which is completely different than what I describe above) but I don't think that is a good idea for mountain biking.

Good luck with figuring it out.
 

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I have similar problems with the back of the knee being strained. Not actually cramping in my case though it feels like it'll head there if I don't relieve it at the time.

Mine is usually caused by having the seat low (I lower it slightly for off-road) and/or pushing a higher gear. If I spin a lower gear on the rises it's usually not a problem. I like to lower the seat a little more when off-road but my knees cripple me for days afterward.

It's less of a problem than previously because I've had the new bike "fitted" to me. It is more comfortable and I can do more work now (i.e. riding work).

I believe it will lessen with time and fitness/strength. When I feel them tighten I stretch the calf muscles as I'm riding. It helps a lot.

As the other posters have said "a few millimetres makes a difference."

Hope this is some help to you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks

Thanks guys. Looks like I need to do some playing around with seat height, clip position, and possibly seat positioning.

Reading back I failed to note I'm riding a single speed (29er). This issue seems to surface mostly after the first couple of steep inclines where I'm really driving down/pulling up to keep the wheels moving up hill.....

THANKS!!!!
 
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