Summer is here! That means there will be cookouts, hiking, pool parties, and tons of other fun outdoor activities. Beyond the leisure activities, Summer also marks the beginning of many offseason training programs for athletes of all ages. Being from North Carolina also means there will be plenty of HOT and HUMID weather. It is important for athletes (and parents of younger athletes) to understand the impact of dehydration on health and performance. At Evans Physical Therapy & Sport Performance we want all of our clients to be the best version of themselves and something as simple as proper hydration can provide that missing link.
Hydration, Health, And Performance
Water comprises from 75% body weight in infants to 55% in elderly and is essential for cellular homeostasis and life (we can only survive for a couple of days without water). The typical recommendation is for everyone to drink 6-8 8oz glasses of water per day. However, this will vary from person to person based on activity level. If you participate in outdoor sports during the Summer you are going to sweat a lot more than the average person and therefore will need to drink more water than the average person. One quick gauge (should not be relied on solely) to see if you are staying hydrated is to check the color of your urine. Your urine should be colorless or light yellow if you are hydrated.
Signs and Symptoms of dehydration:
- no tears when crying
- dark urine
- extreme thirst
- dry mouth
It is important to note that water is not the only substance you need to stay hydrated. As an athlete while you are working hard and sweating you are losing electrolytes. That is where sports drinks come in. I prefer to use pedialyte as it contains an ideal ratio of glucose per 8oz of fluid.
Gatorade is better than nothing but I would suggest going half gatorade/half water (with a few grams of amino acids) for intra-workout hydration. Dehydration has been shown to decrease performance by sprint athletes by as much as 45%. Athletes who compete in high intensity sports and/or endurance sports can expect to see as significant decrease in performance if proper hydration is not reached.
Proper hydration, especially in the Summer, is absolutely VITAL to maximizing athletic performance. Proper hydration requires diligence to make sure that water, glucose, and electrolyte intake matches your desired level of activity. Do you want to get better this offseason or spend your time sidelined with cramps and poor performance?