NutraChampion Podcast Episode 18

LISTEN: Causing a buzz: Prof Ken Nosaka on muscle cramp benefits in athletes, elderly, and pregnant women

By Tingmin Koe

- Last updated on GMT

LISTEN: Causing a buzz: Prof Ken Nosaka on muscle cramp benefits in athletes, elderly, and pregnant women

Related tags Podcast Japan Muscle Sports nutrition

The supplementation of electrolytes could potentially reduce the incidence of muscle cramps due to different factors, including exercise, ageing, and pregnancy, according to the latest guest on our NutraChampion podcast, Professor Ken Nosaka.

Prof Nosaka is the director of exercise and sports science in the school of medical and health sciences at the Edith Cowan University in Perth, Australia.

He and his team recently published a study on how electrolyte drinks are better than plain water in preventing exercise-related muscle cramps. The findings were published​ in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition.

“It is thought that dehydration is perhaps a cause of muscle cramp, but we found the opposite. 

Prof Ken Nosaka
Prof Ken Nosaka

“The more water you drink, the more cramps occur. We thought that this is probably because we are diluting electrolytes in our body by drinking too much water,” ​Prof Nosaka said.

The team is now planning for further study to compare the effects of electrolytes, salt water, and sugar water in preventing muscle cramps.

“OS-1 (the product used in the previous study) contains sodium, potassium, chloride, magnesium, and a little bit of other things. We found that taking OS-1 can reduce the occurrence of muscle cramps, but we don't know whether it is sodium or potassium, or the combination of the two that is responsible for the result.

“We still don't know how electrolytes could prevent muscle cramp and what kinds of electrolytes are important. 

“And so, we need to investigate more. What about just taking sugar water or salt water?” ​he said.

He added that the research in muscle cramps prevention could also be extended to non-sports related circumstances, including ageing and pregnancy.

“We want to find out the broader aspects of muscle cramps, whether electrolyte supplementation can reduce those non-exercise related cramps from occurring,”​ he said.

An expert in the study of eccentric exercise, strength and power training, neuromuscular fatigue, and thermoregulation, Prof Nosaka was drawn to research on nutrition intake and muscle cramp due to his personal experience.

Being an avid tennis player and in his younger days, a track and field sprinter, he said he frequently experienced muscle cramps.

“Whenever I play tennis for two hours, I cramp a lot, then I thought maybe I needed to drink more water, but the more water I drink, the more cramps occur, then I questioned, what is wrong, then I became interested in studies on muscle cramps.”

Over the years, he has also conducted studies on whether supplements such as curcumin, amino acids, and protein powder, could reduce muscle soreness.

Listen to find out more.

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