All athletes will experience muscle cramps at some point in the game of life. Maintaining adequate fluid and sodium balance is recommended to prevent muscle cramps and to make sure the athlete is meeting 100% of their nutritional needs. The H2O Nutritional treatment of muscle cramps involves consuming fluid (H2O or sports drink) to which 1/8 tsp to 1/4 tsp of salt or 1 to 2 salt tablets has been added (to 300 mL to 500 mL of water or fluid). Alternatively, salty foods (soups, pretzels, vegetable juice, jerky, pickles, broth) may be consumed before or following exercise (Manore 2009).
Athletes who train and compete in sports such as football, basketball, tennis, and long-distance running are at risk for exercise-associated muscle cramps (exertional heat cramps) that commonly affect the legs, arms, and abdomen. Cramping is a particular hazard when exercise is conducted in hot environments.
Factors that increase the risk of muscle cramps include the following:
• Exercise-associated muscle fatigue
• Body water loss
• Large sweat sodium loss (Bergeron 2003)
Question about Muscle Cramps?
A client recently asked me if she should increase her intake of potassium when she experiences Cramping when playing tennis in hot, humid conditions?
H2O Nutrition Answer.
While the true cause of Cramping in athletes is not known, the two most likely culprits are water (H2O) and sodium. Increasing water and sodium intake prior to vigorous exercise, especially when exercising in hot, humid conditions, can help prevent Cramping. Replace sodium and fluid losses after exercise, especially if another exercise session will take place within a short period of time.
Stay hydrated and contact H2O Nutrition to make sure your meeting 100% of your estimated nutritional and fluid needs!