What Are Electrolytes? How Do They Help Me?
Electrolytes are essentially salts that can carry an electrical charge. The cells in your body rely on electrolytes to control cell membrane stability and to carry the electrical charges needed for muscle contractions caused by nerve impulses. Without electrolytes, the cells in your body couldn’t communicate with each other or perform these essential functions.
Adequate function of the nervous, cardiac, digestive and muscular systems all depend on a proper balance of electrolyte levels. Both normal body function, and athletic performance, are severely compromised if adequate levels of electrolytes are not present, especially in the heat.
One of the most obvious (and painful) signs of electrolyte loss is muscle cramping. But, muscle cramping is usually a sign that you missed your chance to maintain a proper electrolyte balance. Cramping is one of your body’s last warnings that it cannot continue normal muscle function without electrolyte replenishment. By the time you feel cramping, your performance has already been diminished for some time.
The problem can get worse than just muscle cramping. When your muscles cramp, this is caused by over-excited positive power charges in muscle cells, struggling to do their job with depleted electrolytes, just like a light flickering before it burns out. Severe and sustained muscle contractions caused by these unpredictable power surges can cause muscle pulls or strains, as your muscles involuntarily contract. These severe, sustained and involuntary muscle contractions can not only result in muscle damage but will decrease performance or disrupt exercise entirely. Maintenance of your electrolyte balance can help avoid these potentially severe problems.
Maintaining proper electrolyte balance isn’t just for athletes who’ve suffered from debilitating muscle cramps or pulled muscles. You need to provide your body with an adequate supply of electrolytes to maintain specific bodily functions, so you can perform at your peak. To ensure peak performance, you need electrolytes sending a steady stream of energy to all the cells in your body, to keep your body performing smoothly, without interruption or decreased power. No serious athlete should wait until the final signs of severe electrolyte depletion before replenishing electrolytes. You need to get out in front of electrolyte loss and maintain it before it becomes a performance problem.