There are many different types of cramps, from menstrual cramps to pregnancy related cramps. But exercise-associated muscle cramps, or EAMCs, can put an end to your hopes of a PB.
They sneak up on you, hit you with excruciating pain, and often force you to stop running to stretch the affected muscle.
Traditionally, cramps have been associated with dehydration. Now, research has been published in the Journal of Athletic Training. It is based on the work of Dr Kevin Miller, a professor at Texas State University, and Dr Martin Schwellnus, an exercise scientist from South Africa.
The research has revealed that dehydration alone may not be responsible for cramps. Athletes given pickle juice (vinegar) had reduced cramp duration by 40% than those given water or nothing.
The response was immediate: it took about 90 seconds for the cramp to resolve in the pickle juice group. This is much faster than the typical 25 minutes it takes for pickle juice to work its way through your circulatory system.
Because of this, the team hypothesised that something was happening outside the stomach to affect the cramp. The researchers proposed that a reflex in the mouth created by the pickle brine led to a shock to the system that distracted the central nervous system enough for the cramp to reset.
If you suffer from cramp, the researchers recommend you start a cramp journal. Write when, for how long, and how severe each cramp is to establish a pattern. This may help you alter your behavior or experiment with different remedies until you find one that works for you.
Check with your doctor before you try this solution. Particularly if you have high blood pressure, as prickle brine has a high salt content.
It’s also important to rule out any undiagnosed medical conditions that could be causing the cramping. These could include diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, hypothyroidism, or Machado-Joseph’s disease.