How salty is your sweat? A home test kit
I just noticed, a little belatedly, that an article I wrote for the March issue of Canadian Running magazine is now available online. It describes my experiences with a home sweat analysis kit from Medion Corporation, and compares the results to a laboratory sweat test I did with Lawrence Spriet of the University of Guelph and the Gatorade Sports Science Institute.
In the name of science, I dabbed some shaving cream on the back of my leg and scraped clear a fist-sized area of bare skin. I was about to undertake a new home sweat test to find out exactly how much salt my sweat contains, and I needed to make sure the absorbent patches would stay glued to my skin once the fluid started to flow…
It was an interesting experience, and the home test kit was pretty neat (though a little pricey at $250). It measured a lower sodium concentration than I got in the lab test, something that I think may be due to the fact that I was dehydrated before the lab test (I cycled for 40 minutes in hot sun just to get to the lab).
Overall, I’m not sure what to make of this information. I’ve just been reading The Runner’s Body, the book by the Science of Sport bloggers, and they argue that the theory linking electrolyte loss to muscle cramps is mistaken (a topic I’m looking forward to digging into a little more deeply). Personally, I’ve generally focused on (relatively) shorter distances, so my training runs don’t tend to be multi-hour affairs — which means I’ve never really worried about electrolytes. But for marathoners and triathletes out there, is knowing how salty your sweat is a piece of information that would help you plan your hydration strategy?