Rear Leg Thigh Cramps

Dealing with aches and pains--and better yet, avoiding them--and fitness related to snowboarding. This is also the place to talk about helmets, safety pads, and goggles.

Rear Leg Thigh Cramps

Postby Bwhip » Sun Apr 13, 2008 4:20 pm

This is my first year riding (5 trips so far) and I'm finding that I'm getting a lot of burning in my rear leg quadriceps during a run. It's worse when I'm traversing for long distances on my heel edge. I don't know if it's from being tense while riding, or incorrect binding angles (+15, 0) or lousy form. I could be in better shape, but I'm relatively fit (daily recumbent riding). I also live at sea level and do my riding between 4500 ft and 6000 ft.

I also have some knee pain/stiffness in the same leg for a few days afterward.

Any suggestions?
Pain is best served on a tray.
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Postby bernwern » Mon Apr 14, 2008 9:02 am

Sounds like growing/adapting pains. You should be sore. Binding angles look pretty standard for a beginner, so no concern there.

I would say that your front leg should be sore as a beginner. Back leg implies you are leaning back and using more kick-turns rather than using your front leg/foot to torsion the board and turn using the edge. You should definitely notice it from catwalks or staying on your heel edge.

Maybe your board is too stiff or too long....what do you ride? What size rider are you (height and weight, boot size)?

Even after 17 seasons, whenever I head out to Bozeman for our 4-day Shred Fest I have the same issue happen by the last day. It is pretty normal, just odd for it to be your back leg when you are a beginner.

-B
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Postby Bwhip » Mon Apr 14, 2008 1:10 pm

Bernwern,

Thanks for the reply. Regarding the size of things, I'm 6 feet tall and weigh 180 lbs. I'm riding a 155 cm rental of undetermined torsional stiffness. I make my turns, at least at first, by twisting the board in a "clutch pedal/gas pedal" manner (ala Neil McNab), which seems to work fine. Later on in the day, there's no more juice in my rear leg, and I do end up kicking the tail of my board around to make turns.

One thing I should have mentioned was that, up until Saturday, I was renting size 10.5 Flows. When I returned them, I asked the rental guy to let me try a smaller size. I ended up with a 9.5 before they felt secure and tightened up around my skinny lower legs. I think that now I'll be able to control my toe edge better, so I'll be more likely to alternate edges and split the load up among my other muscles.

But then again, maybe it's "growing pains," like you said. It's a lot easier on my pride if I blame the equipment!
Pain is best served on a tray.
Bwhip
 
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Joined: Mon Apr 07, 2008 11:05 pm
Location: Western Washington State

Postby bernwern » Mon Apr 14, 2008 2:13 pm

The boot issue will definitely impact this, although how much remains to be seen. If your foot was sliding or your heel lifting, it forces your muscles to work harder to balance.

Board length sounds about right for your weight. If it was a rental, they are usually softer flex because casual riders and newbies rent them more.

Starting your turns as described is correct, at least when you're a beginner. Kicking or muscling your turns with your rear leg is a great way to learn to control your speed, turn even faster, and stop if need be....but usually people don't learn this so well after only 5 times out. Nice work! It is called kicking because of the motion, but some call it muscling because you really are using your back leg's strength to kick the tail out and steer it like a boat rudder....this definitely kills your leg strength over time.

The last factor I forgot to mention was skating. Being new, most people stop far from the lift due to confidence. You then need to unstrap and skate further to the lift, always using that rear leg to push. This causes significant muscle wear throughout the day. Learn to stop quicker and closer to the lift by practicing higher speed stopping further up the slope. You will find your legs will love you more for this in the long haul :)

Like I said, even vets like us get killed after many subsequent days riding. Catwalks kill snowboarders. By day 4 on our yearly trip my legs start to literally give out, even when my brain says "no! keep going!".

-B
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Postby John » Mon Apr 14, 2008 5:05 pm

As for cats, yeah, they can be a problem, though in my experience it's an equal opportunity offender for both legs.

One year I spent a few days at Vail. The ride down from one of the bowls to Blue Sky Basin requires running out a long cat to the next lift. At the time I was fearful of changing edges in that situation so I stayed on my toes the whole time. My calves were in a fair amount of pain, but the alternative was walking a long ways so I kept with it.

Now I wouldn't have that problem, as I've learned how to stay within control at a reasonably high speed on the flats. But it was certainly a test then.
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Postby canoer » Wed Apr 16, 2008 9:51 pm

I find that skating is easier on your legs if you take short steps. Hopping on the stomp pad and gliding helps a lot too, but takes a bit of practice to get comfortable doing that.
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Postby John » Thu Apr 17, 2008 7:30 am

Stomp pad? I don't need no stinkin' stomp pad!

Actually, I do have one on my "retired" board. It was very useful at the time. I haven't put one on the board I bought at the start of this season, though. First it was simply "I want to ride this and I don't want to stop to go buy a stomp pad so I'll use it like this for a while." Then it was "I like the way the board looks without the pad and I don't miss it."
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Postby bernwern » Thu Apr 17, 2008 9:11 am

I find longer, fast steps, then step on your board and glide is easiest....I glide longer and can turn the board. Then again, I have a very fast 168, and it glides past nearly everybody no matter what the conditions.

Also, stomp-pads are for those who need them. Definitely beginners. Definitely in certain conditions, or with certain top-sheets. If you need a good one, get the bakoda, dakine, or stomp ones that have 4-6 metal points/spikes. These last incredibly long and work better than any pad I've ever owned. Alas, mine was removed by the board shop when i had a stone grind down to my base.....but I didn't skip a beat...just wedge that back foot against the rear binding and lean on your front foot for stability.

I guess all of it is personal preference...

-B
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Postby canoer » Thu Apr 17, 2008 2:21 pm

Interesting - I like the bit of added grip I get, especially for those times I'm not braced all that well up against the back binding.

My favorite stomp pad is an old oval mouse pad I cut to fit. :)

I used to take longer steps, and used to skate with my left free leg toe side. Then I overheard my buddy's instructor telling him to skate with his free leg heel side and take short steps to avoid clunking the binding. I found that combo of tips very helpful.
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Postby Bwhip » Thu Apr 17, 2008 10:51 pm

Speaking of skating, I had an epiphany last week as I was kicking along to the lift line (which I had stopped too far away from). I didn't feel so clumsy, and it took a while to figure out why. Normally, I face sideways to the board and kick along the heel edge, with my foot perpindicular to the board. I'm always hooking my toe on the rear binding and stumbling around while I skate. Plus, it just feels awkward. For some reason though, I had turned my body slightly toward the rear of the board so my foot and knee were pointing sternwise and kicked with my foot parallel to the heel edge--missed the binding every time. I was also making smaller movements and getting better results.
I'm still in that portion of the learning curve where I get to be excited about little things.
Pain is best served on a tray.
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