Pickle Juice for Sports Recovery in Alleviating Muscle Cramps
For many years, athletes have used pickle juice as a sports recovery drink. As a folk remedy, it’s been used for many things. All I know is that I love the taste of the stuff. I wonder if it’s because of the exercising that I do that leads me to craving pickle juice?
Aside from all the myths and misconceptions regarding pickle juice and athletic recovery, in two studies, Miller, et al. (2009) and Miller, et al. (2010), pickle juice showed promise in alleviating muscle cramps following its use. The average recovery time was 85 seconds. Also, pickle juice did not create more dehydration as some in the medical field had suspected. The 2010 study suspected it may be more than dehydration at work that led to a rapid suspension of muscle cramps. This was because it takes longer than 85 seconds for rehydration to occur after ingesting the juice. It may be muscle fatigue and the juice simply helps with that.
I remember reading the story of how Eagles trainer, Rick Burkholder, gave the players pickle juice during an especially brutal game against the Dallas Cowboys in 2000. The temperature was 110 degrees and yet, none of the Philadelphia players suffered from a crampfest. They won 41-14.
My personal suggestion is that while pickle juice does work for athletes that are training to the point of mild dehydration, the average person may not need it. I use it when I train hard. And it is quite common for many competitive athletes to also be drinking pickle juice. Just make sure it’s right for you.
Let me add this note. Take a sip of vinegar if you feel a muscle cramp coming on. There has been some information in that recovery may be even quicker. And it could be that it the real reason why pickle juice is effective – vinegar.
Miller, K. et al. (2009) Plasma and EMG responses during an electrically-induced muscle cramp and following pickle juice and water ingestion. Dissertation, Brigham Young University, 2009.
Miller, K. et al. (2010) Gastric emptying after pickle-juice ingestion in rested, euhydrated humans. J Athl Train. 2010 Nov-Dec;45(6):601-8.