It may seem unorthodox, but drinking the brine from your pickle jar might help relieve exercise-induced leg cramps. In fact, the American Council on Exercise recommends that you drink this salty "juice" while practicing sports. The secret, according to ACE, lies in the sodium and water content -- your body expels both of these essential nutrients with sweat, contributing to cramps. High sodium intake can be dangerous, however, so stick with small doses and see your doctor before sipping from the pickle jar.
Pickle Juice Research
In a study published in the journal, "Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise" in 2010, researchers observed volunteers who exercised on recumbent bikes in a warm room to promote sweating. Researchers then stimulated participants' big-toe muscle to induce cramping, and gave each subject 2.5 ounces of either pickle juice or water. They found that pickle juice relieved cramps 37 percent faster than water, and 45 percent faster than in a previous experiment with no liquid.
Pickle juice is only recommended for exercise-related cramps, and cramping from other causes could indicate a medical condition. In addition, MedlinePlus recommends that you see a health care professional if your cramps are severe, persist even after stretching the muscle or reoccur regularly. MedlinePlus also recommends ceasing activity as soon as any cramping begins.
- American Council on Exercise: Drink Pickle Juice to Avoid a Hydration Pickle
- MedlinePlus: Sodium in Diet
- The New York Times: Phys Ed: Can Pickle Juice Stop Muscle Cramps?
- Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise: Reflex Inhibition of Electrically Induced Muscle Cramps in Hypohydrated Humans
- MedlinePlus: Muscle Cramps