As we head into the end of summer, many athletes are starting up their competitive sports leading into the school year. The months of August and September typically have high temperatures, and athletes may be more prone to dehydration and heat illnesses. It is important for the athletes as well as parents to educate themselves on proper hydration techniques.

What is dehydration?

Dehydration is termed as a loss of fluids in the body that can cause fainting, muscle cramps, and in serious cases, organ failure, shock, and other life-threatening conditions such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke. In athletes, the majority of fluid loss during dehydration is caused by sweat or exercise, with the lack of proper pre-exercise hydration.

How do I prevent dehydration?

Proper fluid intake prior to exercise can help prevent dehydration. The athlete should consume 500 to 600mL of water 2 to 3 hours before exercise, and 200 to 300mL of water 10-20 minutes before exercise.
Hydration status decreases due to sweat and urine release, so therefore the athlete should continue to hydrate during exercise, ingesting 200 to 300 mL every 10 to 20 minutes

Should I continue to hydrate after exercise?

Yes! Hydration after exercise is done to correct any fluid loss accumulated during exercise, especially during high temperatures. Within 2 hours, rehydration should focus on specific components not only including water. These include replenishing glycogen stores through carbohydrates, and electrolytes in order to speed re-hydration.

Should I consume sports drinks?

Sports drinks have been found to be more effective than water for fluid replacement and rehydration. Fluids that are lost through sweating during physical activity contain sodium, and when an athlete replenishes with a sports drink such as Gatorade, electrolyte replacement takes place. Not only does a sports drink replenish electrolytes, it contains and provides energy in the form of carbohydrates, which is very important during activity for working muscles. When an individual is focusing on rehydration with the quickest fluid absorption rate, the optimal level of carbohydrate to consume is 14 grams per 8 ounces of water.

Not all sports drinks are the same, however. Some Gatorades have a very high content of sugar, which should be avoided when consuming for rehydration and energy. When a sports drink is properly formulated, there should never be reason to dilute the drink. Many people have a preference towards one sports drink or another, and there is not one strict answer as to what the “best” one is to consume. Go try them out for yourself, and see what works best for you! Some examples include: Gatorade (G2), Heed, GU Electrolyte Brew, and Clif Shot Electrolyte Drink.

Many athletes participate in two-a-day practices in high heats that will require proper hydration to be extremely important in order to prevent any serious dehydration and further heat illnesses. For not only athletes, but also individuals who are exercising in the high heat, these simple hydration recommendations should be taken into consideration in order to ensure a healthy, successful start to a new season of athletics!

If you have any questions about our Sports Athletic Training services, call us today: 310-316-3577