'Heat cramping' is defined here as severe, spreading, sustained, sharply painful muscle contractions that can sideline athletes.
Not all cramps are alike, but three lines of evidence suggest heat cramping is caused by 'salty sweating', specifically by the triad of salt loss, fluid loss and muscle fatigue.
Research has shown that 70% of marathon runners and 67% of triathletes suffered from cramps during or immediately after the course.
Other studies have also shown that not all athletes are affected and it is therefore assumed that the cause is the diversity in the composition of sweat; there are those who sweat very salty (see white halos on the shirts) and who much less.
Normally sweat is composed of Sodium, potassium and a minimum of magnesium and calcium.
More salt in the diet and in sports drinks can help prevent heat cramping.
- Avoid low-sodium diet
- Drink mineral water, fixed residue more than 500 mg/L
- Drink electrolyte solutions with magnesium, potassium, sodium and chloride, before and after physical activity, and especially during very hot days
- Prevent dehydration, it's extremely important to drink plenty of liquids before, during, and after the activity. Run with hydration packs.
- Choose energy products that contain sodium, useful to maintain good athletic performance and prevent the appearance of cramps (e.g. carbohydrate gel and sodium chloride addition)
Dott.ssa Annalisa Faè