Author: Steve Born
There are many theories as to why athletes suffer muscle cramps, though the usual culprits are improper hydration and/or improper electrolyte replenishment. If don’t consume enough fluid, one of the unpleasant outcomes you can expect is cramping. Ditto if you consume too much fluid (See the article Hydration – What You Need to Know for more information on this important topic). Additionally, if you don’t replenish electrolytes consistently during exercise, especially during hot-weather workouts and races, cramping is almost guaranteed to happen – and if you’ve ever suffered from mild-to-debilitating cramping, that’s a bridge you want to hopefully cross one time only.
Needless to say, as important as the calories you consume and the fluid you drink during exercise is a consistent replenishment of electrolytes, and not just to help prevent cramping. A number of important bodily functions, including muscular performance, are severely compromised if adequate levels of electrolytes are not present. Even if you’ve got your fuel and hydration plan dialed in, without adequate, balanced levels of electrolytes, you’re missing a crucial component of the athletic performance “puzzle.”
So even if you’ve never had a cramping issue in your life, but most certainly if you have, we encourage you to thoroughly read Electrolyte Replenishment – Why It’s So Important and How to Do It Right. In the article we’ll look closely at this vital, but often neglected and misunderstood, aspect of fueling.