Electrolytes are minerals that separate into charged particles when dissolved in water. They are essential to human body functions and are found in body fluids such as blood and urine. They play an important role balancing water levels in the body, moving nutrients into the cells, removing waste from the cells, and helping nerves, muscles, the heart, and the brain to function.
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You get electrolytes from the food and drinks you consume. The level of electrolytes in your body correlates with the amount of water in your body. So, when your body dehydrates or hyper hydrates the imbalanced state of electrolytes could cause unpleasant symptoms.
Types of Electrolytes
There are a lot of minerals that act as electrolytes, and Chloride, Potassium, Calcium, Sodium and Magnesium are the most common of them. Each mineral has specific electrolyte properties; Chloride maintains the fluid balance between the inside and outside of the cells. Potassium works as an electric conduction medium that regulates heartbeat, muscle contraction and nerve impulses, and the list goes on.
What happens to the level of electrolytes when you exercise?
Sweating is a by-product of the body’s energy production, and it also regulates the temperature of the body. When you workout, the body loses more water and minerals as sweat, and the electrolyte count drops. Especially when you do summer workouts, due to the hot weather, you tend to sweat more which lowers the level of electrolytes faster.
Factors contributing to electrolyte loss
- Temperature and humidity of the weather
- The intensity of the workout or the activity
- Duration of the activity
- Clothing (the number of layers and the fabric type)
What happens when you are low in electrolytes after workout?
Electrolytes level should be in the optimum range for the body to function properly. In cases, especially when you are engaged in intense exercises without proper hydration, in hot weather, you may experience the following symptoms.
- Muscle cramps or sore muscles
- Muscle weaknesses
- Irregular heartbeat
- Appetite loss
Even though it seems like these symptoms are mild and temporary, in serious cases they could be fatal and cause permanent damage to the organs.
How to restore electrolytes
Your body gets electrolytes from the food and beverages you consume. It’s quite popular to have an electrolyte-containing sports drink by your side when you work out. Sports drinks come in handy for quick replenishment of electrolytes, but natural foods rich in electrolytes are always the best way to replace electrolytes. Dairy products and leafy greens are rich in Calcium. Vegetables are a good source of Sodium. Banana and coconut water are rich in Potassium. Seafood, seaweed and tomatoes are good sources of Chloride. Having a balanced diet is key to maintaining an optimum electrolyte level.
How to recover weak and sore muscles after a workout?
It’s not entirely a bad outcome if you experience sore muscles for a couple of days after an intense workout. In the recovery period, the muscles regrow and strengthen adapting to the intensity of the workout. However, if you experience cramps and muscle weakness after a workout or physical activity, it might have been caused by lower levels of electrolytes. If this is the case, take action to maintain a proper electrolyte count in the body.
Resting is important. Avoid exerting affected muscles until they are fully recovered. To support the blood flow in the muscles, gently massage them and apply a hot or cold pack. If you have an Active Compression tool or Active Compression socks use them daily or as recommended. Active Compression tools are more efficient for post-workout recovery which subside the soreness faster.
SPRYNG: The best Active Compression tool
SPRYNG is the most efficient, easy-to-use and affordable muscle recovery tool on the market. It’s a wireless, portable design that you can wear on your legs. The patent pending Wavetec, pre-programmed massaging patterns will ease muscle tension and support the blood flow in the veins. The better the blood flow, the faster the muscles recover. You may also read our ultimate guide to prevent and treat tight calves