Friday, February 20, 2015

Creating a Healthy Relationship Between Your Recovery and Hydration

Water is an important component to our health and recovery. In fact, our bodies consist of approximately 70% water. Dehydration of as little as 1-2% of body weight can compromise physical or cognitive performance. Think of the detrimental effects it can have on a recovery from an intense workout or after an injury.  As an athlete suffering at this level of dehydration, you may begin to experience salty sweat, fatigue, dry mouth/throat, upset stomach, or even a decrease in physical performance. There is also a greater risk of exertional heat injury. It’s crucial for fluid replacement practices that optimize hydration status before, during, and after competition.

Dehydration of greater than 3% of body weight further disturbs physiologic function and increases an athlete’s risk of developing an exertional heat illness, such as, heat cramps, heat exhaustion, or heat stroke.[1] This level of dehydration can happen in less than one hour if the athlete is already dehydrated going into exercise or competition.

As an athlete, it’s important to be educated about the ways you can stay hydrated before, during, and after exercise. In order to fully recover after a hard workout or competition, your body has to have fluids, sodium, potassium, and others essential components replaced in order to heal. A few things to remember when you’re working hard and sweating profusely are:

  • Sports drinks, pickle juice, or fruits like bananas are excellent sources of sodium, potassium, and electrolytes that will help your body heal more quickly.
  • Fluid replacement should be be close to the amount of fluid loss and should keep the body at less than 2% of body weight from dehydration. Typically, you should have 6-8 fl oz to every 15 to 20 minutes of moderate exercise.
  • In order to have a speedy and complete recovery from dehydration, you should drink 1.5L of fluid for each kilogram of body weight loss during exercise.

Remaining hydrated will enhance cardiovascular function, thermoregulatory function, muscle functioning, fluid volume status, and exercise performance. The Autonomic Nervous System will also peak and remain sharp during competition.[2]

While hydration before and during exercise is essential for good athletic performance, hydration after exercise is highly important to the athlete’s overall health. A high rate of fluid consumption during the first two hours of post-exercise rehydration is known to increase plasma volume significantly. Rehydrating after exercise should be geared towards correcting fluid loss with water, as well as carbohydrates to restore glycogen levels, and electrolytes. To have an immediate recovery, it’s important that you receive these within the first hour after exercise. Water is an essential beverage to helping in rehydrating the body. However, sports drinks with little sugar can aid in receiving carbohydrates, electrolytes, sodium, and potassium.

Replacement of sweat losses is an essential part of the recovery process. Exercise performance will be impaired if complete rehydration does not occur. It’s crucial for you as an athlete to make a full hydration recovery after each performance or injury so that you can jump back to your exercise or competition faster and to your full performance potential.
Casa, D., Armstrong, L., Hillman, S., Montain, S., & Reiff, R. (2000). National Athletic Trainers’ Association Position Statement: Fluid Replacement for Athletes. Journal of Athletic Training, 35(2), 212-224. Retrieved February 13, 2015, from

Decker, M. (2014, February 2). Current and Potential Practices in Athletic Training. Retrieved February 13, 2015, from

Dupont, D. (2013, October 2). Staying Hydrated Helps Heart Rate Recover Faster. Retrieved February 13, 2015, from

1 comment:

  1. This article brought dehydration to a whole new light for me. To me it seems like dehydration can be a battle even outside of competition and practice. I had no idea that dehydration occurs in as little as 3% of your body weight. Being an active young adult in college proves to be challenging to stay completely hydrated. What suggestions do you have to help cope with the busy lifestyle of a college student?