Why is pickle juice good for cramps?

EndurElite Chief Endurance Officer Matt Mosman discusses the pros and cons of slamming this salty solution and if it will benefit the performance of runners, cyclists, OCR, and other endurance athletes.


Cramp, cramp. Oh, what's this, pickle juice. One minute, let me wash this down real quick. Oh, that's disgusting. God, I'm not gonna do another take of this video even if I stumble my words.

So, we're gonna go at this right away. Good morning, family of fast, Matt Mosman, the Chief Endurance Officer over at EndurElite. Coming at you with another episode of busting the bull.

Now, as you can tell from the intro, today we're gonna be talking about pickle juice, and if it can prevent cramping.

God, I hope it does not because that is just plain terrible. So, what are we gonna do here? Look at pickle juice, see if there's any legitimate reason and look at the research as to why it might prevent cramping and then kinda try to bust some of the BS, or is it BS? I don't know, you're gonna have to watch and find out.

How much pickle juice for cramps?

A recent research study indicated that 2-3 ounces of pickle juice can stop cramps.

Here's the study:

So, let's look at the research here. 2010, North Dakota State University, my boys up in the Dakotas in conjunction with the University of Birmingham, I believe, conducted a study where they brought 30 people into the lab and they made them cycle to basically dehydrate them.

So, they lost 3% of body weight and then they artificially induced a cramp, which sounds like freaking torture. So, they stuck a little device to these people...or poor people's toes and basically shocked them to cramp up.

So, this study was double-blinded, crossover, placebo-controlled, the whole kit and caboodle, everything you wanna see in a research study.

So, the first time these subjects came in they dehydrated them and induce the muscular cramp to see what normal cramp would look like. Then one week later they brought these subjects back in and you have basically one group that received pickle juice and one group that received distilled water.

And the researchers did the same thing this time, they made these people cycle for 30 minutes, dehydrated them to 3%, and then artificially induced a cramp.

But this time when the cramp occurred, one group drank the pickle juice and one drank the water, and what they found is:

  • the people who drank the pickle juice, the cramp lasted a little bit less than a minute and a half, or a little less than 90 seconds.
  • And the people who drank the distilled water, the cramp lasted for about two and a half minutes.

So they did that, then they crossed over the groups the next week and repeated the same thing and they got the same results.

They found the group that had the pickle juice or drank the pickle juice when their cramp was induced was able to basically decrease the duration the cramp below 90 seconds, where the group receiving the water cramped for approximately two and a half minutes.

So, on the surface, it appears that pickle juice helps prevent cramping, but here's where we bust the bull.

Most people think taking the pickle juice and preventing cramping has to do with like the sodium and the electrolytes and kind of the briny solution in the pickle juice that will help combat the cramping. 

What is in pickle juice that's good for cramps?

But in all reality that's probably not the case at all. We know from previous videos that electrolytes probably have very little to do with muscular cramping.

It's more than likely due to the muscle getting fatigued and these things called alpha motor neurons like spasmodically firing off to cause the cramping in the leg.

So, my opinion is that the nasty ass taste of pickle juice like the vinegar and some of the other ingredients in pickle juice kinda override those alpha motor neurons from, you know, spasmodically firing, and then that relieves the cramp.

Kinda like that Hotshot product out there that I think uses wasabi, it's just that kind of pungent overpowering taste that somehow overrides these impulses being sent by the alpha motor neurons to prevent this cramping.

So, the whole bull part about this video is drinking pickle juice prevents cramping, not with anything with like electrolyte imbalances or anything like that, more just so overriding the alpha motor neurons spasmodically firing.

Excuse me, I'm thirsty. I'm not going for the pickle juice again, beer. 

Where to buy pickle juice for cramps

First, check your local bike or running shop to see if they sell pickle juice. If not pickle juice can be purchased online from the following company:

The bottom line on pickle juice and leg cramps

So, that is all I have for today my endurance friends. If you have a buddy that likes to slam the pickle juice before or during endurance exercise, please share this video with them.

If you want other videos like this on endurance training, nutrition, and supplementation, subscribe to the EndurElite YouTube channel or head on over to the EndurElite blog at www.endurelite.com.

Get social with us on Instaslam and the EndurElite Training & Nutrition Club Facebook page. Yes, that's the one. And until next time my endurance friends, stay fueled, stay focused, stay fast and don't fall for the bull.


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