SIOUX FALLS, SD -
Cramping can be a major issue for some athletes. Sanford Health recently did a study with North Dakota State University football players on one way to prevent cramping. They tested Bison players using sweat patches to see how much salt they lost while exercising and what they found might surprise you.
Safety Paul Thanel made some big plays for Lincoln High School during last weekend's football game against Roosevelt, but he knows it takes an entire team to win.
"If a guy gets out a play and something happens that play, it can definitely make a big difference in a game," Thanel said.
One of the reasons players have to sit out is cramping. Senior Keshaun Britt knows about the problem all too well.
"Cramps aren't a fun thing to deal with," Britt said.
The wide receiver and cornerback had to sit out during a series last weekend because of muscle cramps. As a result, he's willing to try whatever to make sure he gets back in the game.
Britt says he drinks plenty of water before, during and after practices and games.
"What they also don't appreciate is how much they're also losing with electrolytes. The primary electrolytes you lose in sweat are sodium and chloride, which make up salt," Sanford Dr. Michael Bergeron said.
Bergeron says that's why if you're sweating a lot, it's important not only to drink plenty of water, but to also make sure you're getting enough salt.
"If you don't replace the sodium and chloride, you don't fully rehydrate," Bergeron said.
Salt helps the body retain and distribute water. If your muscles became dehydrated, Bergeron says you're more susceptible to cramping.
"Anybody who is sweating a lot and sweating a lot repeatedly really needs to pay attention to putting back the sodium in your diet, so you're better hydrated," Bergeron said.
Not every athlete needs to get more salt. In fact, many of us eat way too much sodium.
“As much as there's variability in the amount people sweat, there's also a lot of variability in how much sodium they lose," Bergeron said.
But if you've struggled with cramps like Britt and are feeling fatigued, you might want to sprinkle a little more salt on your next meal.
Bergeron says if you aren't getting enough sodium, you often crave salt. Some sources of salt include canned soup, cheese, or you can even sprinkle salt into a sports drink.
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