Yes, low salt levels are one of the causes of muscle cramps during long runs. During exercise, sodium is lost in sweat and blood sodium levels decrease. When this happens, the body regulates sodium levels and there is a cascade of hormonal changes that cause sodium to build up again. In people who wear heavy or salty sweaters, the body may not be able to keep up with the amount of sodium lost in sweat and sodium levels can drop dangerously, called hyponatremia.
Before sodium levels fall to ranges that may be referred to as hyponatremia, muscle cramps and contractions can occur. To avoid this type of cramp, you may need to consume more sodium during workouts. Everyone is aware of the importance of hydration during extreme physical activity and sports to maximize performance. Without hydration, long periods of exercise and physical work can cause muscle cramps.
However, there are times when simple hydration is not sufficient to supply adequate amounts of electrolytes that support normal muscle function. As a result, athletes often drink salt water to prevent cramps. Sodium regulates the body's fluid balance and supports nerve and muscle function. When sodium levels are too low, the body responds with painful symptoms.
What exactly causes those nasty headaches, extreme fatigue, and painful muscle cramps? While many people think that sodium isn't healthy, the truth is that the body needs sodium to function properly. Sodium is vital for regulating fluid balance in the body, and this is especially important for athletes, since without it, leg or muscle cramps can occur. Maintaining sodium levels is important for athletes and endurance workers to function at the highest level.