This is the first research to verify, in marathon events, the link between cramps and muscle damage suffered during the race and not dehydration.
Muscle cramps associated with exercise are defined as a painful and involuntary contraction of the skeletal muscle during or immediately after sporting activity. Previous studies established an association of cramps with heavy sweating and changes in blood electrolyte concentrations.
However, research led by Ignacio Martínez, Doctor in Physical Activity and Sport Sciences and member of the team of the Vithas Valencia 9 de Octubre Sports Health Unit, has shown how runners who suffered from cramps during or immediately after the marathon showed no difference in the degree of dehydration, nor in the concentration of sodium in the blood at the end of the race.
The main finding of the study, published in The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, is that those runners who suffered from cramps showed significantly and substantially higher blood concentration of muscle damage markers, both at the end of the race and in the 24 hours following the race.This is the first research to verify, in marathon events, the link between cramps and muscle damage suffered during the race and not dehydration.
Martínez-Navarro, I., et al. (2020) Muscle Cramping in the Marathon. Dehydration and Electrolyte Depletion vs. Muscle Damage. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. doi.org/10.1519/JSC.0000000000003713.