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Heat and Muscle Cramps

Performance, health, and race outcomes can all be significantly impacted by the environment on race day. Wet surfaces, poor visibility, humidity, and warm temperatures can all add precious seconds to finish times and add unavoidable hazards to the event. Of all the environmental obstacles you prepare for, the summer’s heat is especially worrisome. Hundreds of Americans die every year from heat-related causes. While we’ve addressed ways to avoid the heat and even highlighted athletes who overcame the summer highs to excel in competition, we’d also like to look at heat from a HOTSHOT angle: what does heat have to do with muscle cramps?

The beating sun and soaring temperatures zap water and electrolytes from your body as you sweat. Of greatest concern is your sodium level. If your blood sodium dips too low, hyponatremia—low blood sodium—sets in. Severe cases can be life-threatening. One of the signs of hyponatremia is severe muscle cramps. The good news for well-trained, nutrition-focused athletes is that sports drinks provide more than enough sodium to maintain healthy blood sodium levels. It is important to note that water alone will not provide this protection, but may actually exacerbate the onset and symptoms of hyponatremia as too much plain water dilutes the sodium concentration in blood.

Whenever we discuss cramps, it is important to remember the underlying cause of exercise-associated muscle cramps—hyperactive neurons transmit signals to muscles causing involuntary and painful muscle contractions. Many athletes we’ve spoken with over the last couple of years tell us about cramps that start after the third hour on the bike or around mile 15 or 20 or 30 of a marathon or ultra-marathon. At that point in the race, you’ve demanded a great deal of your muscles and your body as a whole. No wonder those neurons go haywire! And heat? Well, high body temperature can act as a sort of stimulant hyperactive neurons. High body temperature stimulates sweating which increases water and electrolyte loss and in turn raises the risk of performance-zapping dehydration. Planning and prevention are the name of the game here. You’ll need to plan as much for the heat as you do for any other part of your race.

That’s where HOTSHOT comes in. HOTSHOT can prevent the cramps that often accompany warm-weather training and racing. In fact, HOTSHOT is the only product scientifically proven to do just that. Take a shot 15-30 minutes before starting your race or training to prevent cramps. Carry a shot along with you just in case a cramp does flare up. Yeah, HOTSHOT treats cramps, too.

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