Dehydration and Athletic Activity
by
Dr. Terrence J. Murphy, A.A.S., B.S., D.C.

Tournament paintball is a very strenuous activity. The inherent aggressive nature of the sport lends itself to a myriad of injuries including sprains, strains, fractures and one of the most serious, dehydration. Dehydration is the loss of fluid, specifically water, from your blood stream. This loss of water can lead to heat exhaustion, heat stroke and even death. It is imperative that athletes monitor their water intake closely when exercising.

Water makes up approximately 50% of our body weight and most of that is in your blood stream. It is through this water that we sweat. Sweat consists almost primarily of water with a small amounts of sodium and other trace minerals. We sweat to cool our body and thereby cool our blood. If your blood temp rises too high it can lead to brain and other organ damage. This rise in blood temp affects the brain and causes such symptoms as confusion/disorientation, hot/dry/red skin (face), vomiting, and passing out. These are the primary symptoms of heat related brain injury due directly to lack of water in the blood stream. Even minor losses of fluid from the blood can severely effect an athletes performance. An athlete can loose 10% in their performance by losing as little as 2% of their body weight during a tournament. It is imperative that athletes stay hydrated during competition. If you are feeling thirsty it is too late for hydration. You are already in a state of dehydration because the brain response to the current blood water level. Which means your blood level of water has dropped below acceptable levels. You now need to play catch up in your water dehydration.

The average person needs to take in a minimum of 3 quarts or 96 oz. of water per day just to maintain their current level of hydration. That amount needs to be increased if the person is involved in any kind of athletic activity and even more if the activity is done in hot conditions. Starting out hydrated and not becoming dehydrated is the key good athletic performance. Here are a few tips to preventing dehydration during exercise:

Drink cold water at about 41deg F. It processes faster than warm water.

Chug water don’t sip it. Water has to move into the intestines quickly in order to process it.

1 hours before activity drink 20oz of cold water.

Eat a couple of hours before you exercise. Energy

Don’t drink sugar laden sodas or sports drinks during very hot and active times. These   
  drinks will cause dehydration due to the large amounts of sugar in them. This includes
  Gatoraid and other such power drinks.

Supplement your water intake with small amounts of sport drinks. Water is your major drink
  during exercise periods not sports drinks.

Don’t drink caffeine laden sodas. Caffeine increases urination which will lead to
  dehydration.

For every 15-20 min of exercise you must drink 8 oz of water. Even if you are not thirsty.
  Double that amount if it is in hot conditions.

After exercise drink a recovery solution. Although Gatorade is popular and a good
  recovery solution, Pedialight is far better to help recover mineral and electrolyte loss.

The key to good athletic performance is keeping your body in proper working order. Adequate hydration is essential to any athletes success. So drink your water before you get thirsty to prevent decreased athletic performance.

Dr. Terrence Murphy is a licensed chiropractor in the state of Minnesota in private practice for 5 years. He is currently pursuing his diplomat of sports medicine and a degree in strength training from Northwestern College of Chiropractic Science .


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