DanLMT saidas an sports and injury recovery LMT for 16 years, an athlete for 29 years 17 as a triathlete.....Gatorade, Propel , etc is ALL CRAP... extremely low in ph meaning acidic so you are adding more toxins to the body besides all the chemicals in order to balance electrolytes...? and especially after you've spilled more lactic acid ? not good chemistry......drink ALKALINE WATER like Kangen Water....not Dasani or Aquafina either ..... they are reverse osmosis and highly acidic, too
take a recovery week of easy cardio cross-training @ 50% , strecth, yoga, get regular massage, supplemement with MAGNESIUM for cramping NOT potassium which is more for heart funcion and fluid balance...or eat foods high in magnesium....which is why woman go to chocolate for their monthly time.....many toxins in most chocolate though
As you've said, you do need potassium for fluid balance, but fluid balance and electrolyte balance are two sides of the same coin. You should make sure you have ample amounts in your diet, especially if you're losing a lot in your sweat and also having to concentrate potassium into your urine because of water loss from sweat. Also, if you eat a lot of protein you will need more potassium for some reason. If you normally drink lots of water and eat plenty of fruits during the day, then you don't need too much potassium or gatorade. A little bit of gatorade will go a long way.
Potassium is very important for the functioning of all muscle types. In the case of skeletal muscle, potassium depletion of around the neuron controling the muscle can prevent an intended twitch to occur but still allow the neuron to hover around threshold to release neurotransmitter. With other electrolytes having imbalances and fluxuations ocurring at the same time, different neurons may randomly release neurotransmitter at some point to initiate cramping. This is especially relevant for the lower legs since the neurons controlling the calves are much longer than other neurons, so there can be several local electrolyte imbalances all along them.
To prevent cramping, it's also very important to have ample magnesium because it is responsible for relaxation of a muscle twitch. However it won't do much without a lot of calcium as well. If your cramping is chronic, then perhaps you have a deficit in other minerals as well. You need zinc, manganese, selenium, and other things. Maybe you should take a mulitvitamin, plus an extra calcium/magnesium/zinc one. You need about 3500mg potassium/day. Bananas have 400-800mg compared to a supplement that has only 95mg, so even one banana a day will help a lot.