Healthy Hydration


News Industry How to Prevent Muscle Cramp After Running a Marathon


29th September 2021

How to Prevent Muscle Cramp After Running a Marathon

The London Marathon finally sets off on the 3rd of October, and preparation is officially underway. If you typically reach for a bottle of water during your training for the big day, you may want to think again. New research has shown that electrolyte-rich drinks are far more beneficial than water when preventing and treating muscle cramps. Muscle cramps are a common painful condition affecting many people, including around 39% of marathon runners (source: Considering muscles are approximately 15-20% water, they must remain lubricated to effectively function.

A 2021 study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition found those who drank electrolyte drinks were less prone to muscle cramps than those who drank plain water alone. This discovery was made by the team from the Edith Cowan University in Australia, led by lead researcher Professor Ken Nosaka. He was inspired to research the cause of muscle cramps after regularly suffering from them playing whilst tennis.

What are Electrolyte Drinks?

Known as isotonic drinks, they generally contain magnesium, sodium, chloride, calcium, and potassium. These essential electrolytes replace the body salts lost to sweat during intensive activity (such as marathon running). Electrolytes are vital to muscle health as they help the body efficiently absorb water. Sodium especially plays a role in rehydration as it retains fluids in the body rather than eliminating them through sweat. Electrolytes are essential for several reasons: they balance your pH level, carry nutrients into your cells, move waste out of your cells, and ensure muscles perform as they should (helping you reach that coveted finish line).

Professor Ken Nosaka believes the study demonstrated that a lack of electrolytes contributes to muscle cramps, not dehydration. "Many people think dehydration causes muscle cramps and will drink pure water while exercising to prevent cramping."

"We found that people who solely drink plain water before and after exercise could, in fact, be making them more prone to cramps. This is likely because pure water dilutes the electrolyte concentration in our bodies and doesn't replace what is lost during sweating."

How The Experiment Worked

The experiment involved 10 men who ran on a downhill treadmill in 35ºC heat for under an hour. A number of those participants drank plain water during and after running, and others took a water solution containing electrolytes. They were then given electrical stimulation on their calves to induce muscle cramps. The lower the frequency of the electrical stimulation, the more the participant was prone to muscle cramps.

Professor Nosaka remarked, "We found that the electrical frequency required to induce cramp increased when people drank the electrolyte water but decreased when they consumed plain water. This indicates that muscles become more prone to cramp by drinking plain water, but more immune to muscle cramp by drinking the electrolyte water."

iPRO Hydrate: The Healthy Isotonic Drink

iPRO Hydrate – Sport Edition is an electrolyte-rich hydration drink popular amongst professional and recreational runners alike. iPRO Hydrate – Sport Edition contains the key electrolytes your body needs to rehydrate and effectively regulate muscle function. Free from caffeine and any diuretic ingredients known to advance dehydration, iPRO Hydrate – Sport Edition’s flavoursome drinks are rich in 100% daily Vitamin C and essential B vitamins. B vitamins support the growth and repair of tissue in the body, which is especially important for marathon runners.

Beat muscle cramp this London Marathon season by keeping your hydration levels up with iPRO Hydrate – Sport Edition. Purchase a 24-bottle case for less than £1 a bottle at www.iPRO.Direct, with free delivery to your doorstep!