Nothing kills your race-day mojo more than cramping up *this close* to the start. Most experts blame nasty cramps on dehydration or a lack of electrolytes. But research that'll be published this month in the Journal of the American Medical Athletic Association has led to the creation of a sports drink that says the real culprit is hyper-excited motor nerves in your spinal cord.
The discovery comes from Rod MacKinnon, M.D., a Nobel Prize-winning neuroscientist, and Bruce Bean, Ph.D., a neurobiology professor at Harvard Medical School. The pair started looking into the science behind muscle cramping after their arms tightened up while they were out on a long kayaking trip (and, yes, they took the necessary precautions to stay hydrated and fueled with electrolytes).
They started to think that sending Transient Receptor Potential (TRP) ion channels that exist in your mouth and throat to those activated motor neutrons in the spinal cord could block the cramps from starting in the first place. MacKinnon put together a mix of ingredients that have the power to turn on these TRP ion channels. The result is a 1.7-ounce liquid shot called HOTSHOT, which is filled with ingredients like organic lime juice concentrate, organic cane sugar, and sea salt and can be taken before, during, or after a workout.
Studies suggest that it actually works. In one field study, athletes who tend to cramp up took the shot 15 to 30 minutes before their workout and cut the frequency of cramps by 50 percent or more. Plus, they were able to jump back into the training sesh faster than they normally would have. Penn State University researchers also found that HOTSHOT can help reduce muscle soreness in the 20-minute time frame after cramping up.
Star athletes, like long-distance runners from the U.S. National Team and IRONMAN champ Craig Alexander, have signed on as brand ambassadors. Should you join them? If you're plagued by cramps on race day or during key training sessions, taking HOTSHOT could be worth a try. But that cramp-free workout is going to cost you. Expect to pay $7 a pop, $35 for a six pack, or $65 for a 12 pack when you buy them online.