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4 Ways Post-Workout Hydration is Crucial to Recovery

For serious athletes, recovering from a workout is as important as the hard effort itself. One of the most fundamental ways to boost post workout recovery, however, has often been overlooked! While many understand the role that hydration plays during exercise, the power of post workout hydration could be the missing link in unlocking optimal performance.

Water plays a significant role in the process of recovery - from helping digest vital nutrients to repairing muscles damaged during exercise. Remember that our muscles are actually 75% water! Here are 4 ways that water will aid your recovery and help you make your next workout even better than the last:

1. Muscular Repair - Exercise causes muscles to become stronger by first breaking them down and then rebuilding them using muscle protein synthesis. This protein synthesis, however, requires that muscles are well hydrated. If you are dehydrated following a workout, the protein synthesis that rebuilds muscles will be slowed and subsequently will delay your recovery from the workout.

2. Digestion -After a big workout, eating enough to refuel your body and replenish glycogen stores is critical to recovery. The digestion of food also requires the presence of adequate water. Saliva, which helps break down food, is composed primarily of water and is crucial to digest and absorb all of the nutrients you are eating. Rehydrating properly after a workout aids in the efficiency of the digestive process.

3. Reduced Fatigue - One of the most common signs of dehydration is fatigue. When you are dehydrated, your blood volume is decreased which means that the heart has to work harder to pump the blood to all of the parts of your body that need its vital oxygen and nutrients. This fatigue not only hinders post workout recovery but feeling fatigued and lethargic reduces motivation for your next big workout.

4. Heart Rate Recovery  - A 2012 study of the role of hydration in athletic performance found that hydration had a large impact on recovery (Moreno et al., 2012). In the experiment, individuals did a 90 minute run on a treadmill under one of two conditions - either they drank a sports drink during and after the workout or they did not hydrate at all. The experiment found that the individuals who hydrated showed significantly faster heart rate recovery following the workout which indicates that their bodies more quickly recovered from the stress of exercise.

Rehydration after exercise clearly has a large impact on recovery. Particularly as hot summer weather approaches - it becomes crucial to develop a post workout hydration protocol that replenishes the liquids, electrolytes and sodium lost during exercise. Focusing on hydration will give you the extra boost you need to recover from a hard workout and get the most out of the next one!  

References:

Arıcan, Aysen. "Importance of Water for Digestion and Absorption." Pinar SU. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 May 2016.

Behar, Jeff. "Understanding The Importance Of Proper Hydration For Maximum Gains In And Out Of The Gym!" Bodybuilding.com. N.p., 19 May 2005. Web. 18 May 2016.

Clark, Nancy. "Rehydrate after Exercise to Recover Faster." Http://www.humankinetics.com/excerpts/excerpts/rehydrate-after-exercise-to-recover-faster. Human Kinetics, n.d. Web. 18 May 2016.

Mckinley Health Center, ed. "Nutrition for Optimal Exercise Recovery." Nutrition for Optimal Exercise Recovery (n.d.): n. pag. University of Illinois. University of Illinois, 2008. Web. 18 May 2016.

Moreno, Isadora Lessa, Celso Ferreira, Carlos Marcelo Pastre, Luiz Carlos De Abreu,, Vitor Engrácia Valenti, and Luiz Carlos Marques Vanderlei. "Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition." Effects of an Isotonic Beverage on Autonomic Regulation during and after Exercise. N.p., 4 May 2012. Web. 18 May 2016.

Tipton, K. D., and R. R. Wofe. "Result Filters." National Center for Biotechnology Information. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 11 Mar. 2001. Web. 18 May 2016. 

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