Dehydration and Athletic Performance

We've heard the tired story of dehydration and warm temperatures. We get it. Right? Drink early and drink often. When you're thirsty, your muscles are thirsty. You've heard it! Are you aware of what exactly is happening inside your body, though?

Numerous resources state that losing 1-2% of your body weight (which is through sweat) can likely compromise your physiologic functions. What is happening, though, is that you have a decrease in blood volume. This increases your heart rate by 3-5 beats per minute for every 1% decrease in body weight. With the decreased blood volume to your skin, this results in decreased sweat, giving way to increased body temperature. The combination of an increased heart rate, decreased blood volume to organs due to compensation for some major organs, and an increase in body temperature is what can ultimately lead to a heat stroke.

Many athletes will also claim their dehydration is what leads to muscle cramps. In turn, this can cause overcompensation, resulting in muscle injuries. A key rule of thumb to understand how much sweat you're losing is to weigh yourself before and after you run. For every pound lost, it is advised you drink an addition 16 oz. of water on top of your daily needs.

In regards to recovery, it is important to comsumer a 3:1 or 4:1 carb:protein drink or snack. Hammer Recoverite offers a nice in-between of both ratios and includes Glutamine, aiding in increased muscle recovery. Studies have also shown that electrolyte replenishment during and after exercise help decrease recovery time by regulating fluid balance, reducing digestive stress, and reducing cramps. Think about the oil light on your car. Your car runs on gas (food), but oil (electrolytes) help everything run efficiently.

Many running specialty stores offer a selection of handheld and waist hydration belts to make hydration during exercise easier to attain. Please don't start your warm-weather training without a proper hydration plan! If you have any questions, the Fleet Feet Sports Murfreesboro and Mt. Juliet staff is well trained in helping you create a plan for safe training!

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