Sunday September 3rd, 2000 is a day most Eagles fans remember fondly. Not only because the then upstart Eagles destroyed the Dallas Cowboys 41-14, but also because it was reportedly the hottest game in NFL history and the Birds avoided cramping by downing pickle juice prior to taking the field.
A new study finally proves the amazing cramp preventing properties of the deliciously salty mixture.
But first, a refresher on that hot day from a St. Petersburg Times article written the day after the Eagles victory in 2000:
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It was amazing because McNabb appeared fresh in what was
reportedly the hottest game in NFL history. The Cowboys and Eagles
played in 109-degree heat, but the Philadelphia players seemed more
energized. The players are crediting pickle juice, which trainer Rick
Burkholder recommended to combat the heat.
"I may start drinking pickle juice when I'm just sitting home
chilling," defensive end Hugh Douglas said.
Vlasic juice and Ciroc is among the former Badassador's fave club drinks.
Ray Didinger's fantastic account of that day actually says the temperatures on the field were closer to 130 degrees when Duce Staley ran for 202 yards in Texas.
As mentioned above, Eagles trainer Rick Burkholder and one of his interns came up with the idea to use the pickle juice and it worked like a charm, but nobody had any scientific evidence to back it up until now.
A study was done in an exercise laboratory at Brigham Young University -- no word on whether it was funded by Andy Reid or not -- to try and prove that pickle juice helps prevent cramps better than water. The results were published last month on the journal of the American
College of Sports Medicine's website and summarized nicely by the New York Times. They basically put college dudes on exercise bikes and made them cramp up. Pickle juice, naturally, worked wonders.
The volunteers rested and did not drink any fluids. Then their tibial
nerve was zapped again. This time, though, as soon as the toe cramps
began, each man downed about 2.5 ounces of either deionized water or
pickle juice, strained from a jar of ordinary Vlasic dills. The
reaction, for some, was rapid. Within about 85 seconds, the men drinking
pickle juice stopped cramping. But the cramps continued unabated in the
men drinking water. Pickle juice had “relieved a cramp 45 percent
faster” than drinking no fluids and about 37 percent faster than water,
concluded the authors of the study ...
So what makes pickle juice so awesome? It may be the vinegar.
Pickle juice may work, Dr. Miller says, by countermanding the
malfunction. Something in the acidic juice, perhaps even a specific
molecule of some kind, may be lighting up specialized nervous-system
receptors in the throat or stomach, he says, which, in turn, send out
nerve signals that somehow disrupt the reflex melee in the muscles. Dr.
Miller suspects that ultimately, it’s the vinegar in the pickle juice
that activates the receptors. In a recent case report by other
researchers, a single athlete’s cramping was relieved more quickly when
he drank pure vinegar (without much pleasure, I’m sure) than when he
drank pickle juice.
While the study doesn't prove any hardcore scientific facts about pickle juice, the lesson to be learned here -- besides always including a Vlasic kosher dill on your turkey sandwich -- is that eating some boardwalk french fries dipped in vinegar may also prevent cramping.
>>Didinger: Game I'll Never Forget: Pickle Juice Game [CSNPhilly]
>>Philadelphia Eagles 41 at Dallas Cowboys 14 [Box Score]
>>Eagles' juice puts Dallas in a pickle [St. Petersburg Times, Sept. 2000]
>>Phys Ed: Can Pickle Juice Stop Muscle Cramps? [NYTimes]