Ask a coach: ‘Why do my legs cramp after cycling?’

Here’s what’s going on in your body to cause those painful muscle spasms

Cyclist suffering from cramp
(Image credit: Getty Images - Boyloso)

Cramp is a term we use to describe an intense, involuntary - and often painful - muscle contraction, sometimes referred to as a muscle spasm. Depending on its location, we can sometimes even actually see the muscle contracting! 

Unfortunately, it can happen both during cycling and after. But what is it about cycling which can cause our muscles to react in this way? Cycling coach Alex Welburn explains what’s going on in the body, and what you can do to avoid cramps.

Alex Welburn
Alex Welburn

Performance cycling coach Alex Welburn is one of the experts who will be answering your questions in Cycling Weekly's Ask a Cycling Coach series, online every Wednesday. He's currently completing a PhD on Critical power and W' at Loughborough University whilst also managing the Performance Project, in which he coaches athletes and provides consultation.

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Alex Welburn

Alex is a Physiologist, Performance Coach, who also lectures occasionally at Loughborough

University where he is completing his PhD in Critical power and W'.


After competing for over 10 years on the bike, where he has competed for GB in both

cyclocross and mountain bike events, he now spends his spare time in the mountains as an

aspiring guide. Alex has worked with cyclists of all levels over the last 9 years, from ultra-

endurance world champions to the Women’s TDF. Supporting his PhD he manages The

Performance Project, consulting with and coaching athletes. Finally, he is also a proud

sponsor of southern based LAKA X Pedal Mafia Race Team.