Drug Free Sport Staff Writers

Drug Free Sport Staff Writers

Friday, July 29, 2016

Hydration 411

Water [n]: a transparent, odorless, tasteless liquid, a compound of hydrogen and oxygen, H2O. A need in life— especially when the weather is hot. Now that summer is in full swing and sport camps are gearing up, staying hydrated is extremely important. Proper hydration is crucial to keep your body moving, thinking, and performing to your highest potential.

Do you often find yourself reaching for water during practice or games; it’s probably because you are dehydrated. Read on to find tips and information about the importance of hydration as an athlete.  

*Graphic from U.S. Geological Survey

Water and the Body
The average human body is made up of 60% water. In fact, most of the body's organs are comprised on water.
  • The brain and heart are approximately 73% water.
  • 83% of the lungs are water.
  • The skin is 64% water. 
  • Muscles and kidneys are 79% water.
  • Bones are even comprised of water, sitting at 31%.
No wonder our bodies cannot function properly when hydration is limited! Water is pivotal for performing at your capabilities.

Hydration should not be forgotten when exercise, practice, or games end. Exercising in the heat without adequate fluid replacement is a sure way to cause dehydration and land you on the bench, watching your teammates practice or play.
“How much water is needed?”, you ask.
Well, that’s the million-dollar question. There is not a definite answer; in fact, total fluid needs and replacement protocols are quite specific to the individual. Sports dietitian, Nancy Clark, MS, RD, recommends that athletes:
·         Drink 2-3 mL of water per pound of body weight at least 4 hours before exercise, practice, or games.
·         Use your sweat rate to determine necessary water during exercise (see equation below).
·         Drink 50% more fluid than lost in sweat after exercise ends.
Graphic from the American College of Sports Medicine
Calculating your sweat rate is an important step to determine the amount of fluids you need every hour of exercise. Training with your individualized hydration protocol can not only delay fatigue, but also heighten energy and performance against your dehydrated competitors. For best results, work with a sports dietitian or certified athletic trainer familiar with personalized sweat rate calculations and hydration plans.

Hydration and Performance 
Water makes practice and games easier, and helps performance improve. When fluid is taken in the plasma, volume restores near the pre-exercise levels and assists to avoid adverse effects of dehydration on muscle strength, endurance, and coordination. In addition, pre-exercise hydration assists in improving thermoregulation, heat dissipation, and performance.    

Dehydration is shown when the amount of water (sweat) exiting the body exceeds the amount of water (or electrolytes) entering the body. The risk of dehydration greatly increases when practicing in hot, sunny, intense environments. Dehydration can be shown by a number of signs such as:
·         Thirst—first sign of dehydration

·         Headaches
·         Dry skin
·         Bright yellow urine (see urine color chart)
·         Difficulty concentrating
·         Increase in body temperature
·         Muscle cramps
·         Swollen fingers/toes

Dehydration and Performance
Dehydration can be detrimental to your performance, not only during practice and games but in the classroom/film room as well. Physical and mental performance is impaired when you’re dehydrated as little as 2% of your body weight. When dehydration reaches 5%, there is a 30% decline in performance. Endurance is also greatly impaired when severe dehydration sets in. The greatest danger is to the heart; plasma and blood volume fall, increasing blood thickness while lowering central venous pressure. This, in turn, causes difficulty when the body is trying to return blood to the heart. It is vital not only for exercise, but also for life.

Steps to take when dehydrated
  1. Go to a cool or shaded area
  2. Seek help from your sports medicine team
  3. Drink clear fluids: water, electrolytes, pickle juice, etc.
  4. Continue to drink these fluids until and after you are re-hydrated

Grab a water bottle and keep it by your side at all times! If drinking water is difficult for you, add flavors such a lemon, lime, or other fruit you enjoy. Athletes with high sweat rates should also consume fluids that replace electrolytes lost in sweat such as sodium and potassium. Challenge yourself and teammates to see who can meet their fluid needs each day. Drink up!

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