We’re at the tail end of summer, and the fall sports season is right around the corner. Proper exercise hydration is especially important early in the season, because during the first few practices, the risk of developing dehydration is particularly high. Here are a few preseason hydration tips:
Ease into Full Intensity Workouts
According to the American College of Sports Medicine, the majority of heat illness cases occur in the first four days of the football season. But the same is true for many sports. The body needs time to adjust to the intensity of high-impact workouts. Therefore, the ACSM recommends starting early-season practices with shorter, less-intense workouts and include enough time for rest between sessions.
Acclimate to Equipment
Athletic equipment increases the amount of work the body must do. Plus, equipment makes it harder for the body to release heat through sweat. For both of these reasons, an athlete tends to expend more water, and subsequently electrolytes, when wearing heavy protective gear. Thus, it’s important to start the season without equipment, and then to introduce it slowly over the course of the first few weeks of practice.
Understand the Importance of Electrolytes
When we exercise, not only do we lose water through sweat, we also lose electrolytes, or essential salts and sugars. Often times, athletes may need to supplement their intake of electrolytes during intense workouts or when exercising in hot weather.
For instance, the National Athletic Trainers’ Association suggests taking in additional carbohydrates, a vital energy source for muscles, during workouts lasting more than 45 minutes. We don’t need much either. In fact, a drink with too much sugar can actually slow hydration.
Additionally, the NATA recommends supplementing sodium during long, intense workouts or during early season practices in hot weather. Athletes lose sodium in their sweat, and losing too much can increase the risk for cramps and strains. But even during shorter workouts, adding a modest amount of sodium, with a hydration drink like DripDrop, may encourage voluntary fluid intake and lead to better hydration.
To learn more about the risk of dehydration and youth sports, you can read some of the past coverage on the DripDrop blog.
- “Youth Sports Safety: Dehydration Can Amplify Strains, Sprains and Cramps”
- “4 Tips to Ensure Proper Hydration for Young Athletes”
- “Does Dehydration Increase an Athlete’s Risk for Concussion?”