It's the NERVE!
Cramps have been around for a long time and we have for the longest time people have been looking at the muscle because that is where the pain and the disfunction is going on. We have blamed them (Muscle Cramps) on dehydration or electrolytes and other chemical levels being too low. The logic was good but the science just was not there. Then one day a couple of doctors (Rod MacKinnon & Bruce Bean) went on a kayaking work out in the open ocean and they both cramped up in their arms. I dont have to tell you that being in a kayak in the North Atlantic in the winter is not a good thing. It turns out that Rod is a PhD and a Nobel prize winner in Nurosciences, specifically with Channel ions. As it turns out scientist are curious and then to as the question "Why?". The two of them set out on a mission to stop exercise muscle cramps. They started with all of the myths that were out there and there was a wide range from Pickle juice to hot sauce. Some worked and some not at all. They asked themselves what all of these things had in common. And it was at that point that they came to the conclusion that the cramp doesn't originate in the muscle. Its the Nerve that causes the muscle to cramp. The muscle won't do anything unless it is told to contract. No stimulation no contraction. Meanwhile back at the research lab our two scientist have gone out and bought some E-Stim machines and start conducting research on cramps. They actually induce muscle cramps in their foot on themselves and then take the potion to see what will happen. "If the cramps stays then the potion is a no go. I then mechanically induce a cramp and then turn the machine off and the cramp goes away then the potion might be a solution." Rod told us.
Some interesting factoids: 68 million people get Exercise Associated Muscle Cramps (EAMC) monthly or more often. Of those 68 million, 48% cramp once a week to every day. 34 million athletes get EAMC and of those 50% cramp monthly or more often.
So who is the actual culprit in this painful event robbing people of their performance. Its the Alpha motor neuron. The cramps happen when this motor neuron becomes hyper stimulated and it won't shut off. Its like the switch gets stuck in the "Full On" position and your muscle can't relax.
Confession time. So I have some skin in the game on this one as I have in the last 4 years suffered from athletic induced muscle cramps. I can not tell you how many times I have been in a race with like 4 laps to go and my quads start cramping up and it totally takes me out of the race. So needless to say when I heard about this I was pretty excited but I was also skeptical of what was being said. So with that I dove into the research aspect of it. Turns out that the guys behind this project are no joke and are leaders in their fields and have plenty of backing to get the hard research done with the proper scientific method that is needed. Unfortunately our bodies don't talk to us in English. Your body can only communicate in some very basic feedback of pain, pleasure and other non-specific symptoms (headache, dizziness, loss of concentration) and the list goes on. So it takes a little time and some experimentation to figure it all out.
3 different spices: So the doctors have come up with 3 main spices that prevent or stop cramping. They are Cinnamon, Ginger and Capsicum and it has a little bit of lime flavor in it.
The flip side to this is that you can't take milk pr peanut butter with this product as the the milk protein and peanut butter binds with it and will negate the effect...
For us we had started the cyclocross season and noticed that we were starting to have some cramps near the end of the hour long ordeal of a race. This was a concern for me and so I contacted the company and they sent me a box (16 servings) of the product. the services are 2 oz shots of their "potion" and its all natural. Because its just spices in a water solution. Now, I am a light weight when it comes to spicy food. I like a little kick to my spicy food but I'm not into a lot of heat. I was warned that the stuff is spicy. I'm glad that they warned me. So its pretty spicy for me BUT each time I would take a shot before a race my tolerance for it was easier and easier. Now I will tell you this, if you are a light weight, take the whole thing immediately, all of it. Other wise you will prolong the exposure in your mouth. I would take a shot of the "potion" about an hour before each race and I found that I didn't have any cramps. So the bottom line is it worked for me.. I plan on making this part of my race nutrition from now on and maybe having it in my back jersey pocket in races as well just in case. Bottom line, it works. Hot shot took away my cramps in racing and now I don't have to deal with that.
It works so well they are using it in studies to treat ALS & MS. The parent company of Hot Shot is Flex Pharma. So, Hot shot is the human performance side of the company. Flex Pharma is the bigger side with eyes on medicine. Hot Shot is also all natural and approved to take and has passed testing and received by the NSF as "Certified for sport" So you wont get "popped" for a positive by doping control from this stuff. There is one down side to this. To buy it will set you back $5.84 a dose or $35 for a 6 pack. The good news is that they are running a $10 off your first order.. So I guess you should ask yourself is $5.85 worth a win?