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  1. #1
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    Pickle Juice for cramping

    Does anyone drink pickle juice to prevent or relieve muscle cramps? If so how much and when do you start drinking it?

    Mike A

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    Senior Member Will Goes Boing's Avatar
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    I'd like to know as well. I always cramp up when I'm about to hit the 30 mile mark and have never ridden more than 45 miles. I've tried magnesium pills, staying hydrated, food, potassium.... nothing helps. Heard pickle juice was suppose to work but not sure about the reasoning behind it.

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    Not to dissuade you from pickle juice, but have you guys ever tried coconut water? I drink it during rides and for hiking and really find it refreshing and rejuvenating.

    i'm interested to see what you guys learn about pickle juice here.
    Last edited by jhaddad8; 05-04-14 at 09:59 PM. Reason: Typo

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    I only cramp in the spring, basically over-use problems. Enduralytes work for me. I suspect that pickle juice would work, not sure I would want to carry it with me. Enduralytes are weightless. I also drink chocolate milk, it seems to help.

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    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jhaddad8 View Post
    Not to dissuade you from pickle juice, but have you guys ever tried coconut water? I drink it during rides and for hiking and really find it refreshing and rejuvenating.

    i'm interested to see what you guys learn about pickle juice here.
    Does coconut water have sodium?

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    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Will Goes Boing View Post
    Heard pickle juice was suppose to work but not sure about the reasoning behind it.
    Something to do with the sodium ... I think.

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    Senior Member skiffrun's Avatar
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    Pickle juice and mustard do NOT prevent, nor do they "cure" cramps.

    I understand that current medical thinking is that a chemical in each tricks the brain into thinking that everything is okay because the smell of the chemical. The brain detects the smell, assumes there is plenty of the needed "salts," shuts off the cramping messages to the muscles. Drinking the juice or the mustard "buys" about 15-minutes for you to actually solve the problem -- that is, your cramps relax and you've about 15-minutes to ingest the needed "salts" and for your body top absorb them.
    Enjoy the ride.

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    Uber Goober StephenH's Avatar
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    I've drank pickle juice until I sloshed on the Hotter-n-Hell 100 and still had problems. Losing weight and getting more fit helps more than anything. I've completed some long hot rides just drinking water and Gatorade. The biggest problem is that you can do the identical thing two different times and have two different results, so it makes it hard to tell if something you did to cure cramps really helps or not.
    "be careful this rando stuff is addictive and dan's the 'pusher'."

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    You need sodium, Mg, and K. Probably a lot more sodium than you realize.

    Pickle juice has salt, which you need and acetic acid, which you don't need. The acid leaches sodium. Muscle contractions require sodium on the first half and magnesium/potassium on the second half. Pickle juice will alieviate the muscle cramps by reducing the force of the contraction since the lower sodium would then be inline with the reduced Mg/K levels. Pick your poison. Better to have all the electrolyes in balance. YMMV.

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    Randomhead
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    Quote Originally Posted by skiffrun View Post
    I understand that current medical thinking is that a chemical in each tricks the brain into thinking that everything is okay because the smell of the chemical. The brain detects the smell, assumes there is plenty of the needed "salts," shuts off the cramping messages to the muscles.
    This is interesting. For me, Enduralytes turn off cramping like a switch -- as soon as I put a capsule in my mouth the cramping stops. I always thought of it as a very effective placebo, and maybe it is.
    Randonneuring -- it's touring for people that aren't smart enough to stop for the night.
    It's a wonderful sport when you can make up for a lack of ability with a lack of sleep

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    Goya Coconut Water per 8oz
    80 calories
    90 mg sodium
    6% Calcium

    I think there is Magnesium in coconut water too but it is not listed on the back. I usually mix it with some coconut sugar (any decent quality sugar) and add a little salt and then dilute it with enough water to fill my water bottle. I'd recommend trying it as a gatorade/electrolyte type drink. Of course, actual results may vary.

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    Rolling along
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    Quote Originally Posted by Will Goes Boing View Post
    I'd like to know as well. I always cramp up when I'm about to hit the 30 mile mark and have never ridden more than 45 miles. I've tried magnesium pills, staying hydrated, food, potassium.... nothing helps. Heard pickle juice was suppose to work but not sure about the reasoning behind it.
    Interesting, I'd suggest a pro fit or having the skeleton checked, your body must be working against itself, and potassium is the mineral needed for endurance.

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    Uber Goober StephenH's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
    This is interesting. For me, Enduralytes turn off cramping like a switch -- as soon as I put a capsule in my mouth the cramping stops. I always thought of it as a very effective placebo, and maybe it is.
    I never could tell if they were better or worse than anything else- sure not any magical cure for me, at least.
    "be careful this rando stuff is addictive and dan's the 'pusher'."

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    Senior Member 1speeder's Avatar
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    I cramp a lot, mostly when I am out of shape. I sweat like no one else I know of, Yes, I drink plenty of electrolytes. If I do cramp, I take a few tums and I can continue my route. Yes, my muscle soreness is still slightly there, but if I spin, I can get though the pain. I have been told that pickle juice will prevent cramping (from someone older and wiser than I), but I have yet to try it, cause the tum routine works for me.

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    I really appreciate everyones input on pickle juice. How about cocoanut juice? I am looking for an alternative to sports drinks for two reasons. One....I can't stand the taste and two....The artificial sweetners leave such an after taste in my mouth. I know about stevia, but that is even worse...

    Mike A.

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    I've had about 4 oz of pickle juice on a couple of supported rides. the brine is a way to get salt into your system; I can't imagine either buying a jar of pickles at a roadside store to drink the juice or bringing a jug of the stuff along with me.

    Salt pills (or their little brothers, Endurolytes) or salted peanuts washed down with plenty of water may help. I'd had good luck with Nuun tablets until I got the berry flavor, and now my stomach revolts. If a convenience store carries 12 oz cans of V-8 that stuff is great. Heck, even french fries with lots of salt, washed down with a Coke, might help. Bananas have lots of potassium. Chocolate milk is good for calcium, but I have to stop for 30 minutes to get that through my stomach.

    Trying lots of different things will either help you find a magic bullet, or keep you in enough electrolytes that the last thing will seem like a magic bullet.

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    One study from North Dakota State University concludes that the sodium (salt) in pickle juice is not involved in the mechanism by which pickle juice aborts muscle cramps. Rather, it is the acetic acid (vinegar) in the pickle juice that acts by stimulating receptors in the oropharynx initiating a neurally mediated reflex which inhibits the alpha motor neurons responsible for muscle contraction. The pickle juice generally aborts the cramp within 35-85 seconds which is too quickly for the sodium to even be absorbed into the circulation. Serum sodium doesn't change for about an hour after pickle juice ingestion by which time the cramps are long gone.
    On a personal/anecdotal note, I have been fortunate enough to have had pickle juice available on several occasions when I developed muscle cramps. A few ounces of the stuff relieved the cramps quite quickly. Without pickle juice my cramps tend to last much longer. So I'm a believer. Equally as anecdotal, I have found that ingesting two GU packets at the onset of cramping usually aborts the cramps quickly as well. Anyone else have experience with GU and cramping?

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    Randomhead
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    I don't know about gu and cramping, but when my legs are sore that means I need to eat. Sore isn't exactly cramping, but it took me 40-odd years to make the connection with eating. And on the rare occasion when I was cramping on every hill, eating definitely seemed to help.

    a month ago I was suffering badly from cramps on a 200k. I ran out of enduralytes (never needed more than 2 before), so I started eating salty foods. Potato chips work pretty well, and coincidentally have about 300 calories in a single serving bag.

    I was never a fan of V8, but I was riding with someone who is. We stopped at a number of different convenience stores and none of them carried it.
    Randonneuring -- it's touring for people that aren't smart enough to stop for the night.
    It's a wonderful sport when you can make up for a lack of ability with a lack of sleep

  19. #19
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    Most of what is known about cramping is negative:
    It's not caused by electrolyte deficiency.
    It's not caused by dehydration.
    It's not helped by magnesium.

    This in spite of all the anecdotal knowledge. None of it is true if you get down in the weeds and look at what's going on. Anecdotes about the above turn out to be associative, but not causative.

    Exercise induced cramps are for sure a result of insufficient training for the level of exercise being done.
    No one knows why night cramps occur or how to fix them.

    Links:
    Aetiology of skeletal muscle 'cramps' during ex... [J Sports Sci. 1997] - PubMed - NCBI
    A promising approach to effectively reduce cramp su... [PLoS One. 2014] - PubMed - NCBI
    Magnesium for skeletal muscle cra... [Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2012] - PubMed - NCBI

    It's good to know someone figured out why pickle juice works. I wish someone would figure that out about Tums. For sure it's not the calcium. My guess has been that it's something like the acetic acid - some buffering effect on the blood. It's too quick for digestion.

    So better than using Tums or pickle juice is simply training. Plus training reduces saddle time, always a good thing.

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    I agree with carbon I too think it's related to training. The amount of blood that your heart pumps and the health of your arteries.

  21. #21
    Uber Goober StephenH's Avatar
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    When I first started randonneuring, the prevention for cramping was Endurolytes, and the cure for cramping was Rolaids (and specifically not Tums). I do remember one ride where I started cramping, ate Rolaids, and the cramping went away. But like I mentioned, those results are irregular, what works one time won't the next, what works for one person won't for someone else, so you're never sure if anything actually "worked" or it just happened that the cramp went away. I mentioned cramping on the Hotter-n-Hell 100, but that was about mile 70, those cramps went away and I was able to finish the ride, basically doing what I'd been doing all along. As often as not, cramps will be in muscles that aren't being used in the exercise. The most common places I get cramps now are backs of my thighs, and that's after I do a long ride, then sit in the car or sit at the computer a while, then get up- but I have no idea if sitting on those muscles after a long workout is what does it or not.

    Oh, supposedly, Rolaids had 3 different minerals/ingredients, Tums only had 2 of the 3, but I forget what they were, maybe magnesium was the missing one in Tums. Anyway, Rolaids had a major recall due to some contamination in the product, and I don't know if they ever made it back onto store shelves or not- I don't recall seeing them, at least.
    "be careful this rando stuff is addictive and dan's the 'pusher'."

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    Uber Goober StephenH's Avatar
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    Also- for those that wonder- there is a commercial product called Pickle Juice, specifically for preventing cramps and stuff- so people that are "drinking pickle juice" aren't necessarily draining the juice off of an actual jar of pickles. Some quick research show's it's not necessarily nationwide, so you may not have seen it. I've had samples at charity rides, etc.

    Welcome To PickleJuiceSport.com!
    "be careful this rando stuff is addictive and dan's the 'pusher'."

  23. #23
    aspiring dirtbag commuter max-a-mill's Avatar
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    mustard packs...

    easier to find than pickle juice.

    placebo? who cares... placebos are f-in awesome if they work.

    i will say proper training is the best way to eliminate cramping.
    - the revolution will not be motorized -

  24. #24
    Randomhead
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    thank goodness for effective placebos. Wait, isn't the definition of a placebo that it isn't effective?
    Randonneuring -- it's touring for people that aren't smart enough to stop for the night.
    It's a wonderful sport when you can make up for a lack of ability with a lack of sleep

  25. #25
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
    Most of what is known about cramping is negative:
    It's not caused by electrolyte deficiency.
    It's not caused by dehydration.
    It's not helped by magnesium.

    This in spite of all the anecdotal knowledge. None of it is true if you get down in the weeds and look at what's going on. Anecdotes about the above turn out to be associative, but not causative.

    Exercise induced cramps are for sure a result of insufficient training for the level of exercise being done.
    No one knows why night cramps occur or how to fix them.
    So ... if cramping is not caused by those things, why then do I get cramps in my feet on days when I'm dehydrated?

    I'll have had a busy day at work, and will have forgotten to drink during the day, then I'll do something as strenuous as walking through a grocery store, and my feet will cramp.

    Or I'll be out for a casual 1-hour ride and will have forgotten my water bottle at home ... after all, it's only a short ride and not at anything like an intense pace ... and toward the end of the ride, my feet will cramp.


    I was getting feet cramps fairly regularly for a while, and then I'd be OK for a few days, and then back to feet cramps, so I analysed my diet ... and consistently ... my feet cramped on days when I was dehydrated, and were OK on days when I drank enough.

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