Whether you are a competitive athlete or an exercise enthusiast, most people  have experienced serious cramping at least once and many athletes and others experience severe cramping more often. It can be embarrassing as marathon world record holder runner Paula Radcliffe and Superstar Lebron James have both been disabled by cramps during major competitions.

The traditional thinking was that cramps were caused either by dehydration, electrolyte imbalances, or by overtaxing a muscle group but recent research states this is not really the case.  The new theory is cramping is not a muscle issue rather a nerve issue.  This also answers the question of why cramps sometimes happen at the beginning of the exertion and even occur at rest or during sleep.

Over the years, athletes have come up with special concoctions such as pickle juice and sour cherrie juice to prevent cramping and it turns out they may stumbled on the possible cure to preventing cramps.  The initial thought was the secret was the salt content, but it appears this wasn’t the case.

A Wall Street Journal article Researchers at Harvard looked at this and found there are no known benefits to cramps and that they are not protective and this is now thought to be a neurological misfiring. Furthermore, one of those Harvard researchers is Nobel Prize winner, Rod MacKinnon.  He  found that pungent and spicy tastes can hinder neurological misfires that cause muscle cramping. He and others then went on to develop a drink, Hotshot, to help.

The drink Hotshot is a mix of ginger, cinnamon and capsicum, an extract of a spicy pepper. You don’t have to drink much of these liquids, and experts recommend it only requires 2 oz of pickle juice or Hotshot(TM)

before a strenuous workout or competition or even first thing in the morning.  It may even help when the cramp occurs.


So the takeaway is if you want to prevent cramps don’t just drink Gatorade or water, try pickle juice.  I wonder if this might this also help with night cramps and restless leg syndrome?

Source: A New Way to Prevent Muscle Cramps