Texas vs. Alabama: Pickle Juice?

Since it’s Friday, and since my friends Al and Leah made a special request, I did some research as to why Mark Ingram was given pickle juice to ease the muscle cramps in his legs during last night’s National Championship game. I was just as curious as they were!

At school we are taught to think of symptoms and solutions mechanistically, so let’s start with what causes muscle cramps, and then we’ll see how pickle juice fits into the picture…

People who tend to get muscle cramps are those with a deficiency in calcium, magnesium, and/or potassium. A lack of acetylcholine (neurotransmitter that stimulates your muscles to work) and dehydration can both lead to the muscle cramping, particularly in hot weather. Have you ever exercised strenuously outside in the heat and felt dry salt crystals on your forehead? Those are the electrolytes that you have lost, and they are a clear sign that you are dehydrated and in need of electrolyte replacement. This loss of electrolytes causes muscle cramping because electrolytes are used by cells to create the electric impulses that cause muscle contraction.

Pickle juice typically contains water, salt, calcium chloride and vinegar. Due to its high water and salt content, pickle juice could be effective in relieving muscle cramps in athletes. While there is much anecdotal evidence supporting the use of pickle juice for muscle cramp relief (apparently the Philadelphia Eagles’ head trainer calls it his “secret weapon”), I could not find any medical professionals who actually recommend it. However, there is clear scientific evidence that salt and electrolyte replacement is necessary for those exercising in the heat, and pickle juice is probably just one of many ways to do this.

There is even an official pickle juice drink, Pickle Juice Sport. And apparently this drink is distributed to several dozen teams and over 100 pro athletes!

I did read something that suggested 2 ounces of pickle juice is sufficient for electrolyte replacement. I’m guessing Mark Ingram downed way more than that.

People on Twitter had an opinion on subject too:

debster619 Congrats Alabama!! & who knew pickle juice would help bring Mark Ingram back in :)))

mlwellness Quick fix for cramps = pickle juice. Sound gross? Need 2 have good hydration + #nutrition pre-games. Hear that, John Wall + Mark Ingram?

lestat74 Ewwww pickle juice...really mark ingram really?

cranekickers Gatorade? Pickle Juice? no no no...what Mark Ingram needs is bananas

DaLastDon they're using pickle juice to hydrate mark ingram? huh?

And this last Tweeter even tried to capitalize on the whole thing:

SandJPicklePop Pickle juice is 30x better for hydration than powerade and 15x than gatorade order a small pack of pickle pops here www.sandjpicklepop.com

So, to wrap it up I guess pickle juice can be an effective way to relieve muscle cramps. It does seem a bit hip right now though. Maybe what Mark Ingram really needs is a nutritionist to help him increase his vitamin and mineral intake so the muscle cramping can be avoided altogether. If anyone wants to give him my name, feel free…


  1. OH I can't wait to forward this blog post to Ryan. I know nothing about football either, but I did watch the national championship last night :) Ann if you get to be mark ingram's nutritionist, I will be so excited.

  2. I love me some natural remedies! I've also heard that due to the potassium and B vitamins in cucumbers they are great for abating hangovers. Helpful if you get to be Lindsey Lohan's nutritionist. Now that would be exciting!

  3. Yes it would! I'll add her to my list of celebrities to target :)

  4. I loved this and it's very timely. Now that I've had 4 glasses of water and a delightful "cocktail" of pickle juice, what are my other options? Bananas and what else? Betsy