I went for a run recently, about a week after the half-marathon. I’d done a couple of easy four-milers since then and all was fine. But this particular run was just going to be a short one, so I planned on going fast.

All felt great on this sunny muggy morning until about a mile in. My calves started cramping. By the mile and a half mark, both of my legs had entirely seized up. It was so painful – the first time it’d ever happened – and I limped miserably home.

Well, I need to start carrying a pickle jar on my runs because according to a new study, pickle juice is a cure for muscle cramps. People who drank the juice as soon as the cramp started felt relief after just 85 seconds – 45% faster than drinking no fluids and 37% faster than drinking water.

Researchers aren’t really sure why this is…the effect was almost immediate, too soon for the juice to get into a person’s system and rehydrate him (weakening the hypothesis that cramps are caused by dehydration). A study author suggested that cramps are caused by exhaustion, when small nerves that should prevent muscles from overcontracting malfunction. Something in the acidic pickle juice – maybe the vinegar – may activate nerve receptors that in turn send signals to the nerves to calm them.

Lesson learned: pickles are good for everything.

Advertisements