If you're already a spicy-food-lover, you're about to have all the more reason to douse your food in sriracha. A Nobel Prize winner, Rod MacKinnon, who studies molecular neurobiology, recently identified a possible cause for cramps and a solution while kayaking. According to his research, spicy food may be the long hunted-for antidote to cramping.
Scientists have begun to suspect that cramps have more to do with nerves and less to do with muscles. MacKinnon's theory corroborates that, but he also deduced that the issue was not related to electrolytes or hydration, as previously thought.
Using himself as a test subject, MacKinnon created spicy drinks in his kitchen using ginger and cinnamon. He'd drink them, then use electrical impulses to stimulate a cramp and found it was harder to induce cramps after sipping down those spicy drinks. He began to hypothesize that eating spicy foods and beverages might inhibit the painful muscle spasms, so he began to study the theory more scientifically with a trial. His suspicions were confirmed in the tests.
MacKinnon's research was presented last year to the American College of Sports Medicine, and athletes certainly took note. Noticing an uptick in the number of athletes consuming spicy drinks before races in workouts, MacKinnon even partnered with a biotech company to produce pre-workout beverages. Despite its uncomfortable taste, MacKinnon told the Wall Street Journal he believes "the strong sensory input causes inhibition of the motor output." So a jolt to the nerves prevents the cramp.