Run Oregon Test Kitchen: Pickle Juice

Untitled Cramps suck. They really do. One of my most painful outdoor experiences was when my legs seized up on a strenuous hike in the Cascades. It came on strong and I was out of commission for way longer than I wanted to be. Of the remedies for cramps, there are lots of suggestions - from mustard and salt packets to bananas. Some of those are easier to carry during a run or a hike than others. And depending on what you read, there is (or is not) a correlation between dehydration and electrolyte loss and cramping. Another such remedy that appears to be floating out there is pickle juice. While many athletes report that pickle juice works for them, and chronic crampers even drink it before as a preventative measure. Run Oregon got in touch with the Pickle Juice Company and asked to try a sample. Our reviewers aren't generally big crampers by trade, so our experience should not be taken scientifically. We wanted to do a taste test and see if it was something we could stomach. Company: The Pickle Juice Company Product: Pickle Juice and Pickle Juice Shots Price: $12.50 for juice (Amazon); $20 for shots (Amazon) Specs: o Calories

  • Purified Water
  • Vinegar
  • Salt
  • Natural Dill Flavor
  • Potassium, Zinc, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Yellow #5
  Description: 

Pickle Juice sport was formulated in 2001 for the specific purposes of stopping and preventing muscle cramps and replenishing key electrolytes lost through athletic performance or excessive sweating. Scientific studies have validated Pickle Juice’s effectiveness in muscle cramp treatment and prevention. while our product is based on the concept of drinking common pickle brine, the proprietary Pickle Juice Sports formula differs greatly in both form and function and is the preferred sports drink by serious athletes, athletic trainers, coaches and teams from youth through professional ranks everywhere because of its purity and lack of non-essential additives.

Impressions:

Matt: I have heard of a variety of things to take care of cramps, and I will admit that I took a mustard packet on my first (and currently only) marathon back in 2013. I am also never afraid to try new food, and I think I may have this trait in my blood. I distinctly remember my father drinking green olive juice straight from the jar when I was growing up (for pleasure, not for cramping).

That being said, it took me a pretty  long time to muster up the courage to try these. I love pickles, but there is just something about “pickle juice” that isn’t the most palatable. It’s important to note that these products actually contain 0% juice. Instead, they are a combo of water, vinegar, salt, and dill flavor. Upon opening, I thought the smell was fine (not overpowering), and harkened back to the scent of Dill Pickle Sunflower Seeds (which were my go-to during my baseball playing days).

I didn’t find the taste too terrible – and by that I mean that in a pinch I wouldn’t think twice about opening a shot. It is super salty (for obvious reasons), but I didn’t find the taste overpowering either. I’m not sure I would sit down and drink it for fun – but that’s not why it exists anyways.

I also would consider pre-planning and drinking if I was a chronic cramper, though I found the larger size more challenging to stomach (just due to the sheer amount, not because it is any different). I found that I’d rather just be quick and dirty with it. Overall, this is something I would use when necessary and add to a race belt or hiking bat if necessary.

However, taste is really subjective (probably even more so with pickle juice), so individual feelings may vary.

Teresa: I don’t have a lot of issues with cramping (knock on wood), but it still happens occasionally and I like to have some options for remedies. I like pickles and hate cramps, so I thought it would be a good product for me to try, after my initial giggle. For endurance events I love watermelon, which does nothing for cramping, but satisfies my sweet tooth and gives a little hydration. The ‘pickle juice’ was pretty much opposite of my go-to watermelon. For athletes who are more into savor versus sweet, they will love this product. Even though it isn’t actually pickle juice, it takes like a saltier version of the brined stuff. For an event, I would prefer it cold. I drank mine at room temperature. I passed along a bottle to Joe, another Run Oregon blogger, and he drank it somewhat warm, after it sat in my purse during a warmer run. Even on the warm side, he said it wasn’t bad and I don’t think he was teasing me when he said it was refreshing.

Unfortunately, (or fortunately, for me) I didn’t experience any cramping during the time I tested the pickle juice so I can’t say whether or not is actually works for cramps. I can say the taste isn’t bad and the ingredients look legit. I was disappointed I didn’t pack along a bottle last weekend when I met a guy at a half marathon who was having bad calf cramps. It could have made the perfect endorsement. I’ll just have to wait until I come across another runner in pain or experience it myself to really know if it relieves cramping. I think these would be a great product to pack along for a team relay, where you have a lot of fatigued bodies or pack for a long run. The taste isn’t bad and chilled it might even be refreshing on a hot, hard run.

About Matt Rasmussen (1568 Articles)
Matt Rasmussen lives in Keizer, Ore. with his wife and three daughters. He enjoys watching the Olympics, sampling craft beers, and all things Canada (he was born there). Matt was raised as a baseball player and officially transitioned over to running in 2010.
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