Pickles: Your new summer training buddy
A recent NY Times article touts the benefits of pickle juice in alleviating muscle cramps. According to a study published in the Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, Pickle juice “relieved a cramp 45 percent faster” than drinking no fluids and about 37 percent faster than water. In the study, athletes were asked to cycle until slightly dehydrated and then received an electrical stimulation to induce a cramp in their big toe. On average the cramps lasted about 2.5 minutes, but when the subjects sipped on pickle juice the cramps were shortened to less than 1.5 minutes.
So what exactly is alleviating the cramp? Sodium? Water? Perhaps neither. Another study indicated that since the same amount of electrical stimulation was needed to induce cramps in fully hydrated and de-hydrated muscles, water and sodium levels were not the main cause of the painful contractions. Instead, researchers postulated that muscle fatigue is the main instigator of cramps. “Certain mechanisms within muscles have been found, in animal and limited human studies to start misfiring when a muscle is extremely tired.” Researchers suspect that the vinegar in the pickle juice is the main player in counteracting this muscle malfunction.
While you may not be able to stomach the thought of replacing your Gatorade with pickle juice, it couldn’t hurt to keep a jar of dills on hand. And if you don’t like pickles, other foods that contain vinegar include balsamic vinegar-based salad dressing and coleslaw made with vinegar instead of mayo.
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- Phys Ed: Can Pickle Juice Stop Muscle Cramps? (well.blogs.nytimes.com)