Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Are you drinking enough?

With one of the challenges of the World Cup being identified as the heat and hydration of the players, the recent warm weather we have enjoyed and the fact that I forgot my drinks bottle at my last training session, I thought it would be useful to include a topic on hydration.

Dehydration is caused by an athlete not sufficiently replacing fluid losses during exercise which is caused by sweating in order to maintain a constant core temperature and the body not over heating through exercise. Therefore sweat rates are naturally higher when athletes are exercising at higher temperatures. 

The main impairments are as follows, with the magnitude increasing as the level of dehydration increases: 
  • Increased heart rate
  • Impaired heat regulation- leading to the risk of heat stroke
  • Exercise feels harder than normal
  • Reduced mental function
  • Reduced skill level
  • Stomach upset
To prevent any of the above from occurring, athletes need to match their fluid losses with the amount of fluid they are drinking. The easiest way that athletes can do this is by taking their body weight before and after exercise, adding the amount of fluid they have taken in during the session and then this will give the total loss for the session. Once and athlete begins to understand their sweat losses, athletes can be prepared, taking into account the varying environmental conditions they may be training in.

To ensure that athletes maximise their rehydration, the most important thing is that drinks are palatable and are non-carbonated. The amount of carbohydrate and electrolytes will be linked to their palatability, the type of training and the environment the athlete is training in.

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