Medial thigh cramps

I’m looking for some info and practical wisdom for dealing with post-workout cramps in my inner thigh (not groin, but whole length of the thigh down to just above the knee - not much of an anatomist, so I can’t name the muscle!).

I’ve been increasing my distance over the last two weeks in my final training push to prep for a long tour coming up in early August. After longer-than-normal rides (80-90 miles), I am prone to a truly debilitating cramp (read: screaming and crying) in the area described above. It tends to happen when I’m lying in bed the evening after the ride.

Without knowing what’s really going on, I’m throwing everything at it that I can think of: drinking water like a fish all day every day, more electrolyte tabs during the ride, stretching, trying to keep moving after riding so muscles stay warm. The last couple days, I have had some warning twinges but not full-on cramps, thank God, so something I’m doing is helping.


What is this? Normal response to increased distance? Poor hydration on warm summer days? Age (I’m 51)? Bad form or bike fit? Nutrition problems? Payback for neglecting Suf Strength the last few weeks?

What can I do? How best to stretch? How can I make sure this doesn’t knock me out during my event, when I’m riding 10 days in a row of 120 miles? How can I survive if it appears despite my best efforts?

I understand there are probably many reasons for this to happen and as many solutions, but I want to know if I’m missing anything in the realm of prevention and especially would like the voice of experience to help me handle it when it happens.

Hey Dame C,
I used to get cramps in my quads and hamstrings and also my calves. Was excruciating. Usually would strike in the night when I was least expecting it and leave huge golfball knots in my muscles afterwards that took ages to resolve. Not sure if it’s the same thing as you’re experiencing, but what worked for me was:

  1. Take a Magnesium supplement daily (some women I know find it’s a Potassium or Sodium issue, but was Magnesium for me)
  2. Foam roller once or twice a day. It’ll help resolve the post cramp knots and also seems to help prevent them from happening in the first place.
  3. And with caution, try hosing your legs down with cold water in the shower post exercise. I do this religiously and boy is it tough in winter.
  4. You’re taking in protein immediately after a hard workout as well I assume? When training epically hard, I take a whey based protein within 15 minutes (ideally during cool down) and I’ll often add a Casein based protein at bedtime as well.

Definitely worth a chat to your GP or a physio though. Hopefully your GP isn’t like mine and tells you to stop exercising so hard. Yeah, right!

Hey, @DameCristy!

Like @DameLisa said - yoga focused on hamstrings and hips, then protein shake right after the ride - I like Nuzest vanilla with a scoop of orange Scratch added. Foam roll or a massaging “pain stick”. + 1 on the daily Magnesium - endurance athletes need a lot more!

Other suggestions to help

  • An arnica + capsicum salve right after shower - heat is your friend to increase the blood flow and a Janice recovery. Cold not so good as is caused the capillaries to constrict.
  • Compression leg sleeves or tights (even better) for at least an hour.
  • elevate legs with heating pads
  • Pre-ride activation yoga if you are not already doing - even if not on the plan you are following.
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You’re right for men. Not for women though, we’re a bit quirky for three weeks of the month and respond differently post exercise.


@DameLisa, this is extremely interesting! Is it true of post-menopausal women as well?

Thanks for the good advice. I shall consider magnesium - but how does one tell if potassium, sodium, or magnesium is needed? Or is the supplementary amount harmless in any case, so might as well try?

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@ErickT, thanks so much for the helpful suggestions! I have just started adding a recovery shake to my regimen - never really thought it was necessary before. And I will try the magnesium and post-ride leg treatments.


Hi DameCristy, unsure of post menopausal. I’ll try find out for you. If you haven’t, download the Wild.AI app, that’ll give you specific post training recommendations based on the training you’re doing and your hormone levels. And yes, it tracks hormones in post menopausal women too.
It’ll give you really specific recovery and refueling recommendations.

Stacy Sim’s book ROAR is worth a read, although it’s out of date now, and she has done a ton more research on post monopausal women since it was published. Worth following her on Instagram or Facebook as she’ll have posted more on this there.

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Try the Magnesium. You should know within a week I’d guess. It was pretty dramatic for me from memory. If it doesn’t work after a couple.of weeks, stop the Mag and try something else.
I think CrampStop type sprays are sodium but could be wrong, never tried those. A friend of mine with sodium issues just started cooking with salt again.

Definitely also check the supplement recommended amounts and stick to the guidelines. I suspect too much of anything is never a good thing

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Look for Magnesium Citrate. You’ll want 50% of the RDA with breakfast. Start there, if helping without lower GI issues, then take the remaining 50% with dinner and see how it goes. If too much your body will let you know.


Or sodium bi-carbonate?

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The magnesium advice could already be helping you but Cramps in inner thigh could be related to position on bike being made worse by increased miles. Those muscles hold your legs/ knees in. Could even be a cleat problem! Hope you get it sorted soon. /Liz

@ut-och-cykla , that’s a very good point, since I’m noticing that this is the only muscle that ever cramps and only on the left side. It seems that hydration, electrolytes, stretching, and probably adaptation to the higher mileage is keeping the worst at bay now, but I would like to explore fit issues too while there’s still time. The mileage of the actual event is more than I have time to do in any training rides, and I do not want to have this problem dogging me through the first few days!

I wish I had some idea what to try adjusting in my cleats and/or fit. Anyone with wisdom to offer?

I could give this a go given the amount of cleat work I’ve been part of/helping with (on an unqualified, using own experience basis).

Are you currently ‘toe out’? (That means the cleats are set such that your shoe looks toe out when just sat on a bike clipped in but doing nothing)?
Do you get any inner knee (see point above about how all these things tie together) discomfort just now?
Do you use insoles?
High arch?

Pm is fine if you want to try some things. BUT (in caps :-)) - this is risky getting in to cleat messing when, if you have no issues actually cycling and no joint pain, and an event coming up …… you could end up creating other issues.

Another ‘take’ on this.
That muscle could be (relatively) weak.
Many of us have muscle imbalances as a result of how we sit/stand/live our lives.
(Eg my right glutes are missing presumed dead but my left are fine …. who knew …… I didn’t until I broke my knee and they had me on a machine and laughed (really) are my right (Uninjured leg) results.

So (and this won’t do you any harm before an event) - you could get after (without going bonkers and hurting anything) some inner thigh strengthening work (do both sides)?? Could you fit that in twice a week for 10 minutes? If nothing else it will help ‘activation’

Last comment- I’m just a n other person who’s been through a lot of stuff like this…. totally unqualified !!

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Jings. That was an essay. Sorry

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@Martin, I’m grateful for the essay! Thank you!

I have my cleats adjusted to be just a bit toe-in, actually. This has always been good for me in the past. I got new shoes with a very different fit a few months ago, though, and it has taken some work to get the position right. I do not get inner knee pain. Don’t use special insoles, have rather flat arches.

I hear you about the danger of messing with cleats so close to my event. I certainly don’t want to make anything worse. But I may try adjusting the cleat just a couple of millimeters for my next longer ride and see what happens.

Yes, my side lunges in SUF strength workouts are very strong to the right side, pitifully awkward to the left. (I literally have to stop and think how to perform the move before doing it every single time.) Perhaps that imbalance is part of my problem.

I appreciate your thoughtful reply!

Isn’t that a laxative? Wondering how that would affect my weekend endurance rides…

If you take too much! :nauseated_face:

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That begs the question of how much to take. I’m prone to cramping so I’m keenly interested in this discussion and any ways to minimize cramps.

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Some guidelines I found. Magnesium - Consumer

Might need to seek out a medical professional to dig deeper on your specifics?

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I think you might have just identified a weakness to work on. If those inner thigh exercises are troublesome take your time through them and make sure you keep good form but if possibly do just a couple extra and it will start to pay off in the long run.

Also try some of the yoga that is designed to help strengthen and flex these muscles it will help with the stability muscles in that region as well.

I have my own annoying niggle right now with my what I believe is my inner hamstrings, and I think it is do to weakness and not electrolytes or anything of that matter.