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Study Finds Electrolytes Offer More Protection Against Muscle Cramps Than Water

Muscle cramps during exercise can be caused by dehydration or low levels of electrolytes in the body. A recent study has found that consuming electrolytes (minerals in the body that have an electric charge) instead of water may help alleviate muscle cramps during exercise.

Ten athletic men with an average age of 25 participated in the study. They performed two downhill running tests in the heat for 40-60 minutes to lose 2% of their body weight through sweat. They drank plain water during and after one test and drank a water solution containing electrolytes during and after the other test. Calf muscle cramp susceptibility was measured using electrical stimulation to induce muscle cramps before, immediately after, 30 minutes after, and 60 minutes after the running test.

The researchers found that more electrical frequency was needed to induce muscle cramps when participants consumed the electrolyte water compared to when they drank pure water. This showed that muscles were more immune to cramps when participants drank the electrolyte water and more prone to cramps when they drank pure water.

The study was conducted by researchers from Edith Cowan University.It was published online ahead of print on March 15, 2021 in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition.

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