Pickle juice for cramps

Fugazi

Professional
So what kind of pickles should I buy? The sweet ones, the regular ones? Is there a difference as far as the supposed anti-cramping effect is concerned?
 
I see no one has responded to your question.

Well, it's the salt (sodium chloride) in the pickle juice that is replenishing the salt lost in perspiration.

So you don't want sweet pickles - you want the "regular" ones.



You should know that there is sodium in sports drinks like Gaitoraid. That's how the vast majority of tennis players keep up their sodium content (as well as football players doing two-a-days in the August sun in Texas/FLA/Georgia).

You also should know that most cramps are not caused by electrolyte (sodium) deficits. Most are caused by overuse taxing muscles upsetting the delicate balance between positive and negative charges at the cellular level. Of course a sodium deficit can exacerbate this tendency though.

You can read more in the USTA Recovery in Tennis Booklet that you can download for free at: http://assets.usta.com/assets/1/dps/usta_master/sitecore_usta/USTA/Document Assets/PlayerDevelopment/SportsScience/RECOVERY PROJECT 22410 EMAIL VERSION.pdf
 
Last edited:

Power Player

Talk Tennis Guru
Mustard packs have saved me many times. Just keep them in your bag and you can suck one down if you feel a cramp coming on.
 

coach k

New User
I am a big fan of NUUN tabs to prevent cramps. I buy them at the local bicycle store in my town. I had two severe heat related cramping episodes this summer, since I started including two NUUN tabs in my water bottles (1 early 1 during matches) I have had ZERO problems. They taste way better than pickle juice.
 

Fugazi

Professional
Thanks for the answers guys, but I already use either Nuun tablets with Gatorade (regular Gatorade doesn't have enough electrolytes) or Clif Shot Electrolyte Drink powder.

I was under the impression that pickle juice and mustard were useful not so much because of the salt, but because of the acid and its supposed inhibitory effect on excessive muscle contraction. This is based on a lesser known cramp theory that implicates not so much the electrolytes, but rather an imbalance between excitation and inhibition of the alpha motor neurons when muscles become fatigued.

In any case, I'll try the regular pickle juice and might also try mustard if necessary.
 
Last edited:

LuckyR

Legend
Thanks for the answers guys, but I already use either Nuun tablets with Gatorade (regular Gatorade doesn't have enough electrolytes) or Clif Shot Electrolyte Drink powder.

I was under the impression that pickle juice and mustard were useful not so much because of the salt, but because of the acid and its supposed inhibitory effect on excessive muscle contraction. This is based on a lesser known cramp theory that implicates not so much the electrolytes, but rather an imbalance between excitation and inhibition of the alpha motor neurons when muscles become fatigued.

In any case, I'll try the regular pickle juice and might also try mustard if necessary.

All of the liquids in pickles (as well as the drink marketed as Pickle Juice) have tons of sodium. So you are free to choose the one that you find the most palatable (I use that word loosely). However if you have a bowl of pretzels the night before your match, you will likely not need any of that stuff, especially at this time of year.

Better to prevent than treat.
 

jwardb

Rookie
Thanks for the answers guys, but I already use either Nuun tablets with Gatorade (regular Gatorade doesn't have enough electrolytes) or Clif Shot Electrolyte Drink powder.

I was under the impression that pickle juice and mustard were useful not so much because of the salt, but because of the acid and its supposed inhibitory effect on excessive muscle contraction. This is based on a lesser known cramp theory that implicates not so much the electrolytes, but rather an imbalance between excitation and inhibition of the alpha motor neurons when muscles become fatigued.

In any case, I'll try the regular pickle juice and might also try mustard if necessary.
This is also my understanding. I see that you've already posted to the other recent thread on this. I found that the recipe that Bud offers there is quite easy to make (and of course has the acetic acid recommended by this theory). That said, I come from a family of competitive runners and they swear by the little yellow mustard packs...no mess, and they fit right in your pocket or bag...
 

Fugazi

Professional
All of the liquids in pickles (as well as the drink marketed as Pickle Juice) have tons of sodium. So you are free to choose the one that you find the most palatable (I use that word loosely). However if you have a bowl of pretzels the night before your match, you will likely not need any of that stuff, especially at this time of year.

Better to prevent than treat.
I'll add the pretzels to the list, thanks!
 

markwillplay

Hall of Fame
I am a veteran of the pickle juice and also cramps...take my word for it.,...pickle juice works...take my word for it...do NOT over do....if you drink too much it will tear your stomach up bro. I got carried away one night and was up all night with diareah because I drank too much. Once you have been to the ER with complete cramps, you will do anything when you feel them coming on and I did drink way too much juice. There is a product called The Right Stuff" that is absolutely the best hands down. Just do a search and get some. It desolves in water and you drin k it before you play and then maybe every hour if you are still playing in the heat. Gatorade is BS...sorry guys...it is not concentrated enough for me and I know several people that are like me. Maybe we lose electrolites quicker or something, but gatorade will not catch you up near as quick as a little pickle juice or the "right stuff". Mustard is a great product as well and has higher concentration of what you lose (I believe) becuae I have actually used that as well. I think part of the pickle juice thing is that it gets into your system quickly and is very concentrated. Gatorade will hydrate you pretty well but you can go into cramnps and not be dehidrated at all. The day I went into the ER, I was not dehydrated and had consumed a ton og gatorade and water....no one really knows what causes cramps for sure but they supect it has to do with electrolites (sodium, yada yada). Food before hand works as well. If you are playing in the heat the next day and are going to be out there...eat a meal full of nutrients and increase your salt (the opposite of what you should do if you are not going to be spending hours on the court).

Oh yea, the gels really work well too. I used to consume those while I was playing and they did a much better job than gatorade.
 
Last edited:

XFactorer

Hall of Fame
So what kind of pickles should I buy? The sweet ones, the regular ones? Is there a difference as far as the supposed anti-cramping effect is concerned?
So far, a majority of the science articles don't support the idea pickle juice helps relieve cramping because of the high salt content and how it might help replenish electrolytes faster and all the other anecdotal schtuff.

I'm a major cramper. I find that hydration starts the night before a match and not just an hour before. I try to drink lots of water the night before and lots of water the morning of the match. I drink a 32 oz bottle of Gatorade before the match, approx. over a 1 hour duration. And then I drink water and Gatorade during the match, to not overdo it on the sugars in the Gatorade. I've found "Gatorlytes" (which is basically a salt pack) at my local GNC and that seems to have helped. I only add that to the Gatorade I drink on the court during a match. In a match, I usually go through both 32 oz of the Gatorade and the water and I refill with just water. Also I eat bananas or Clif bars, too, on change overs. My matches are usually marathon singles matches since I have no means of finishing points early *sigh.*

Anyway, again, I'm only giving you anecdotal evidence. I'd steer clear of the pickle juice, though. But others would say to steer clear of the Gatorade. Some say coconut water. Some say just plain water. Experiment, I guess.
 

XFactorer

Hall of Fame
I am a big fan of NUUN tabs to prevent cramps. I buy them at the local bicycle store in my town. I had two severe heat related cramping episodes this summer, since I started including two NUUN tabs in my water bottles (1 early 1 during matches) I have had ZERO problems. They taste way better than pickle juice.
Ick! I tried Nuun tablets at a regional tourney since it was free. I personally don't like how it makes the water feel. Taste is fine, but the water feels gelatinously slick (not thick). Personally preference, I guess.

As for the cramping, Coach, what if you never had the Nuun tablets and didn't have any cramps after that? Maybe the summer was at it's peak right after you had the second cramping episode and it was just smooth sailing after that?

"Correlation does not equal causation," as the statisticians say.
 

Fugazi

Professional
Just to clarify further, I've been a regular cramper for almost 20 years (and I'm only 32...). The Clif Shot Electrolyte powder drink has helped, I believe, because it contains about 2-3 times more sodium and potassium than regular Gatorade, and also has some magnesium. Still, I've had cramps last Sunday in a squash tournament: I first played a brutal 5-game match and then I played... another brutal 5-game match. I drank quite a bit of Clif Shot drink, and I started cramping badly in the fourth and fifth games of my last match. While I can't be absolutely sure, I believe that cramps were caused by 1) unusually difficult exercise and 2) a lack of sodium. I think eating more electrolyte foods (maybe a few pretzels, an electrolyte gel, a banana) would have helped, or maybe mustard/pickle juice. I'll stick to the Clif Shot drink for my next tournament, but I'll also make sure to have more electrolytes from solid foods or more concentrated liquids, especially if I have to play two matches on the same day. Thanks for the interest, I'll try to update the thread next week, during/after my tournament.
 

LuckyR

Legend
So far, a majority of the science articles don't support the idea pickle juice helps relieve cramping because of the high salt content and how it might help replenish electrolytes faster and all the other anecdotal schtuff.

I'm a major cramper. I find that hydration starts the night before a match and not just an hour before. I try to drink lots of water the night before and lots of water the morning of the match. I drink a 32 oz bottle of Gatorade before the match, approx. over a 1 hour duration. And then I drink water and Gatorade during the match, to not overdo it on the sugars in the Gatorade. I've found "Gatorlytes" (which is basically a salt pack) at my local GNC and that seems to have helped. I only add that to the Gatorade I drink on the court during a match. In a match, I usually go through both 32 oz of the Gatorade and the water and I refill with just water. Also I eat bananas or Clif bars, too, on change overs. My matches are usually marathon singles matches since I have no means of finishing points early *sigh.*

Anyway, again, I'm only giving you anecdotal evidence. I'd steer clear of the pickle juice, though. But others would say to steer clear of the Gatorade. Some say coconut water. Some say just plain water. Experiment, I guess.

You are mixing up apples and oranges. Gatorade (and other sports drinks) are hydrating products not electrolyte replacers. True they have lytes in them (to help maximize the rehydration) but nowhere near what you need if you are actually suffering from muscle cramps. For that you need way higher doses, like in pickle juice, salt tabs or pretzels, mustard etc.
 

Fugazi

Professional
You are mixing up apples and oranges. Gatorade (and other sports drinks) are hydrating products not electrolyte replacers. True they have lytes in them (to help maximize the rehydration) but nowhere near what you need if you are actually suffering from muscle cramps. For that you need way higher doses, like in pickle juice, salt tabs or pretzels, mustard etc.
Yeah I believe that's what was missing in my last tournament. One day I'll beat those cramps...
 
Top