Preventing Injury with Proper Hydration
You are not alone if you have had struggles staying adequately hydrated. If you don’t have a go-to water bottle at your fingertips, if you never remember to bring in your water bottle from the car in the afternoons when you get home from work, if your workplace doesn’t have easy access to water, if you don’t like the taste of plain water, if your water has to be just the right temperature, if you hate having to pee, if you’re not sure how much water you need… you may not be getting enough. This is exceptionally true when you are physically active on a regular basis.
If food is your fuel, then water is your oil. Try to go the life of your car without putting oil in it. You will literally break your car. Now, I don’t actually know what would happen to a car if you didn’t change the oil in it enough, but I can imagine it probably isn’t pretty. You wouldn’t intentionally injure your BMW i8 (my personal spirit car) by not giving it the oil it needs to drive optimally, would you? OF COURSE NOT! Isn't your dream body more important than your dream vehicle?
Let’s look at some facts about hydration.
1. Hydration can prevent strains, cramps and spasms in addition to heat-related injuries
Strains, cramps, and spasms can lead to injury. Injury leads to the inability to perform optimally with the potential to table your performance goals and activity and leave you frustrated and sitting on the couch Netflix bingeing more than you’d like.
2. Dehydration rears its head in many ways. Know how to recognize when you’re not getting enough
Early signs of dehydration can include the obvious, thirst. There are some additional signs that may not be so obvious, including:
- flushed skin
- premature fatigue
- increased body temperature
- faster breathing and pulse rate
- increased perception of effort
- decreased exercise capacity
The more dehydrated you become, the more likely you will be able to see the more advanced effects of dehydration such as dizziness, increased weakness, and labored breathing. These symptoms could lead to pushing yourself past the point of comfort to meet a PR, resulting in injury from improper form as a result of fatigue.
3. Hydration is important in all stages of exercise, from beginning to end
The following guidelines are provided to give you an idea of when and how much to drink for optimal performance and decreased risk of injury.
- <2 hours prior to exercise: Drink 16-24 ounces of water within 2 hours prior to training.
- 10-20 minutes prior to exercise: Drink 7-10 ounces of water.
- During exercise: Consume 6-12 ounces of water every 10-20 minutes in the midst of training.
- After exercise: Replace every pound lost during training with 16-24 ounces of water at least 6 hours after the training’s end. This will involve weighing yourself pre- and post-exercise.
4. Hydration can be obtained from fluids other than water, but are generally not necessary for the average gym-going American
Sports drinks may be appropriate for the athlete that is engaging in moderate to high-intensity exercise that lasts for an hour or longer. Eating well around your workout and drinking plenty of water is enough for most people without needing to resort to electrolyte replacement beverages.
Thirst should be our guide, and water our beverage. (Skerret, 2012)
- Drip Drop Team. (n.d.). Youth Sports Safety: Dehydration Can Amplify Cramps, Strains and Sprains. Retrieved 8 18, 2016, from Drip Drop: http://dripdrop.com/youth-sports-safety-dehydration-can-amplify-cramps-strains-sprains/
- Jennifer M. Doane, M. R. (2016). Sports Nutrition Topics: Hydration Guidelines.
- Sharon Denny, M. R. (2015, 3 23). Hydrate Right During Physical Activity. Retrieved 8 18, 2016, from Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: https://www.eatright.org/
- Skerret, P. J. (2012, 7 30). Harvard Health Publications. Retrieved 8 18, 2016, from Trade Sports Drinks for Water: https://www.health.harvard.edu/