Pickle juice helps prevent muscle cramps

Currently, professional, college and high school football teams and cross-country athletic teams through colleges and high schools are beginning their summer practices. They will also start your urge to drink pickle juice as a way to help avoid muscle cramps. Runners and cyclists, especially those in hot southern climates, are also well aware of the benefits that pickle juice provides. Pickle juice can definitely help prevent muscle cramps.

Pickle juice contains salt, calcium chloride, and vinegar. The basic ingredients are similar to those found in sports drinks. Where pickle juice has acetic acid, isotonic drinks contain citric acid, like the sports drink named after crocodile and its power.

Great moments in the history of Pickle.

The history of pickles goes so far back that no definite time has been established for their origin, but they are estimated to be more than 4,000 years old.

-Cucumbers are mentioned at least twice in the Bible (Numbers 11: 5 and Isaiah 1: 8) and history records their use more than 3000 years ago in Western Asia, ancient Egypt and Greece.
-The cucumbers were brought to the New World by Christopher Columbus, who is known to have grown them on the island of Haiti.
-George Washington was a pickle enthusiast. So were Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and Dolly Madison.

Ok, let’s begin.

Sometimes you can take a sip of juice from the pickle jar. It’s okay. Could that seemingly useless liquid, which is often thrown away when pickles are gone, could be the key to athletic endurance and avoiding debilitating leg cramps?

PURPOSE WITH SOME SUPPORT

Using pickle juice as a defense against muscle cramps first made headlines when the Philadelphia Eagles credited pickle juice with their cramp-free victory over the Dallas Cowboys in the 100-plus degree heat in Texas. Rick Burkholder, the Eagles head coach, called it his “secret weapon.” Pickle companies (such as Mt. Olive Pickle, Vlasic Foods, and Golden Pickle) claim that pickle juice is similar to an isotonic drink and can prevent muscle cramps caused by strenuous exercise.

Golden Pickle has even created a sports drink, appropriately named “Pickle Juice Sport.” Golden Pickle states that Pickle Juice Sport has “approximately 30 times more electrolytes than Powerade and 15 times more than Gatorade.” He’s even backed by Dallas Cowboy Jason Witten.

Last weekend I participated in a bike race in Wichita Falls, TX called “Hotter N Hell.” My distance was 100 miles in hills and I think drinking the pickle juice mentioned above helped me stay on the ride and then finish with a style (for me). With temperatures reaching 90 degrees and humidity around 80%, there was a lot of sweat. Many riders had to be picked up by the SAG wagon and transported back to the finish line, unable to complete the journey. I started cramping my upper quadriceps at about mile 68. I stopped in the 70 mile support area and consumed 24 ounces of pure pickle juice. After about 30 minutes I felt completely refreshed and took off again. I stopped again at two of the three remaining support areas and filled my drink bottle with pickle juice. I experienced no more cramps and closed the last 5 miles averaging 20 mph. 24 oz of pure pickle juice is well above what 2 oz. suggests serving, but I also drank some of my own energy drink. However, I know that the effect I received after drinking the 24 oz was real. No more cramps was real too.

RATIONAL

So how does this work? Muscle cramps are caused by dehydration from exercising in hot weather and not drinking enough fluids. How might pickle juice help? When you sweat during exercise, you lose a lot of salt and minerals. These minerals and salt are also known as electrolytes. This loss of electrolytes can cause muscle cramps, especially in hot, humid weather. Cells in the body use electrolytes in cell fluid to maintain voltages across their cell membranes and to carry electrical impulses to other cells. In the case of my bike ride, I had to be able to use my muscles in both a pulling and a contracting movement, or muscle contractions. Pickle juice is very high in salt or electrolytes. So drinking pickle juice before and during exercise could provide your body with enough salt so your muscles don’t cramp.

Confused? Do not be. Any liquid that contains any or all of the four commonly considered electrolytes, sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium, will work to help prevent muscle cramps. Obviously, the more the merrier. Try it every day and see for yourself. Don’t worry about how people look at you when you put that empty pickle-laden jar of liquid to your lips.

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