This summer has been especially hot in so many parts of the U.S.
Known for its typically mild summers by the coast, the Pacific Northwest has experienced heat waves so strong that they’ve found shellfish cooked alive on some shores. It’s as if the climate is changing or something… anyway–high temps mean very sweaty summers.
Is dehydration the reason you get muscle cramps? Let’s dive in.
Cramps Are The Worst
There is nothing worse than being on a run, minding your own business, trying to be an active and healthy individual, and boom–just like that your calf decides it wants to ruin your day as it rolls up into a painful cramp.
Apparently, cramps love the calf muscle.
Approximately 80% of cramps happen at the calf muscle. Why? Researchers aren’t sure, but it’s fair to assume you’ve experienced a muscle cramp in your life and that if you have, the calf was most likely the culprit. So you know how much of a buzzkill these can be.
Incase you’ve never experienced one, a muscle cramp is a sudden, painful contraction of a muscle. A cramp can last from several seconds to many minutes and can leave that muscle feeling stiff or sore for days.
So why do muscle cramps happen and what can you do to prevent them? Why, I thought you’d never ask.
First off, if you are a keto enthusiast, you may want to pay extra attention here. Keto foods tend to be low on electrolytes, which are crucial for muscle function. Whether you are on keto or not, exercise fatigue and body fluid loss seem to be the two biggest contributing risk factors for muscle cramps.
No surprise there, but let’s dive in a little deeper: There are two schools of thought when it comes to the actual cause of a muscle cramp.
One theory basically says that as muscles fatigue, neuron function in the muscle gets impaired, which could lead to cramps. Studies like this one support this neuromuscular theory. Basically, your muscles get tired and throw a temper tantrum in the form of a cramp.
However, the more well known theory to explain the cause of cramps is dehydration. For a long time, net water loss has been accepted as the consensus explanation for why muscle cramps occur.The shocker though is that there is actually very limited evidence that shows that water loss leads to muscle cramps.
As a matter of fact, it seems OVERhydration is the issue. You see, if you drink more water than your body needs, you essentially dilute the sodium levels in your blood. This leads to cramps (among other issues) even though you are plenty hydrated. Turns out, electrolyte levels, not just water intake, is pretty important too. The solution? Don’t go on long runs in the middle of the day if you live in the Pacific Northwest. But if you do, or if you just get very sweaty when you are nervous like I do, make sure you add these electrolyte-rich foods into your diet.