written by: Olivia Crozier
We all grew up hearing that drinking water is the answer to 80% of our problems. Have a headache? Hydrate. Your eye is twitching? Hydrate. Big race tomorrow? You got it… Carbo load and hydrate. Athletes know how important hydration is during a workout, but it’s also a crucial component to the recovery phase afterward. Many athletes choose to train without carrying hydration with them which means rehydrating during recovery is even more important. Because the human body is made up of mostly water, maintaining a healthy balance of water and electrolytes is imperative to a proper hydration strategy. Whether you’re on the mend from an illness, healing an injury, or resting up after a workout, proper hydration is essential to recovery.
Impacts of Dehydration
Dehydration makes you feel bad, we all know that. There is a lot happening in your body as you become dehydrated; decreased blood pressure, increased heart rate, increased respiratory rate, and decreased blood flow to extremities. In extreme cases, drinking only water and neglecting to replenish electrolytes can cause hyponatremia, or critically low levels of sodium in the blood. Hyponatremia causes the body’s cells to swell, which can be life-threatening. In addition to the obvious physical impairments, mild dehydration causes cognitive impairments up to 20% affecting speed, accuracy, and memory. To summarize, dehydration can cause a whole lot more than just a headache.
The amount of water and electrolytes an athlete should be consuming is dependent on a number of different factors including physical size, training environment, the clothes you’re wearing, and how intense your workout is. While many athletes have heard the trick to hydration is to drink half of one’s body weight in ounces, this method is often inaccurate when you look at the many factors outside of physical size. We often use the term “comparing apples to oranges”, but when it comes to hydration, it’s as simple as comparing apples to apples (no, not the card game). The amount of fluids and electrolytes lost during a workout is the exact amount of fluid and electrolytes that you should be putting back into your body to rehydrate. It’s as simple as 1:1, but the tricky part has always been knowing those exact values during an athlete’s workout. Up until now, people have been guessing their hydration needs and oftentimes getting it wrong. Being able to rehydrate accurately and precisely is a game changer for all athletes; leading to better performance, higher levels of energy, faster healing, better cognitive abilities, and many other positive outcomes.