Hydration: Keep Up The Fluids!
The good news is that by drinking regularly during exercise, athletes can prevent declines in concentration and skill level, improve perceived exertion, prevent excessive elevations in heart rate and body temperature and improve performance - good justification for every player and coach to make fluid replacement a key priority during training and competition.
- Players can roughly estimate their own fluid requirements by weighing themselves before and after exercise sessions. Each kilogram (kg) of weight lost is equivalent to approximately one litre (L) of fluid.
- Where possible, it is better to begin drinking early in exercise and adopt a pattern of drinking small volumes regularly, rather than trying to tolerate large volumes in one hit. Most athletes can tolerate 200-300ml every 15-20 minutes but tolerance will vary according to the exercise intensity.
- Some players are so focused on training or competing that they forget to drink. Some avoid drinking because they fear stomach discomfort. Drinks need to be cool, palatable and conveniently available or they will not be consumed.
- Water is a suitable option during exercise. However, water drinkers need to be aware that water does not stimulate fluid intake to the same extent as sports drinks. Drinking to a plan is therefore crucial when drinking water. Don't rely on thirst!
- It was believed that sports drinks only benefited the performance of exercise greater than 90 minutes. However, in recent years, the intake of carbohydrate and fluid has been shown to be beneficial for high intensity exercise of approximately 60 minutes. This makes sports drinks a good option for many types of sporting activity.
- Be well hydrated before training or playing. This requires drinking regularly throughout the day leading up to training or playing. Have a drink with all meals or snacks.
- Immediately before training or playing commences, consume 200-600ml of fluid.
- Teach yourself to take small sips of water/sports drink every 15-20 minutes of training or play.
- You usually need to drink 150% of any fluid loss in the four-six hours after exercise to account for ongoing sweat and urinary losses.
To promote rapid recovery of fuel stores, as well as muscle growth and repair, players are encouraged to consume a carbohydrate and protein rich snack soon after the match. Dairy based options (e.g. low fat flavoured milk, liquid meal supplements), provide a good combination of these macronutrients and tend to be popular with players. They carry the additional benefit of contributing to the player's rehydration needs simultaneously.
Please note: this information should serve as a guide only. When in doubt always seek advice from Southside Physiotherapy & Sports Injury Centre or your GP.
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