Sports Hydration for Health and Performance

During sporting practices and events it is imperative for athletes to stay hydrated not only for health reasons but also for maximum performance. Dehydration can lead to life threatening conditions such as heat exhaustion or heat stroke if not treated and can lead to decreased  performance at the basic level.  Heat illnesses can range from heat cramps and heat exhaustion to heat stroke that can be fatal. All types of heat illnesses need to be recognized and properly treated quickly to decrease the severity of the situation.

Signs of Minor Heat Illness:

  • -Dizziness
  • -Cramps, muscular tightening and spasms
  • -Lightheadedness, when not associated with other symptoms

Early Warning Signs of Exertional Heat Exhaustion/Heat Stroke:

  • -Headache, dizziness, confusion and disorientation
  • -Excessive Sweating and/or flushing
  • -Fatigue
  • -Nausea and/or vomiting
  • -Chills and/or goose bumps

Signs of Exertional Heat Stroke:

  • -Core body temperature of more than 105 degrees
  • -Signs of nervous system dysfunction such as confusion, aggression and loss of consciousness
  • -Increased heart rate
  • -Rapid breathing
  • -Seizures
  • -Low blood pressure

Fluids should be consumed before, during and after practices and games to help prevent any heat illness from occurring and to replace fluids lost during activity. On average athletes should consume 200-300 milliliters of fluids every day.

A good way to measure how much fluid an athlete should consume after practices is a weigh in and weigh out chart. Athletes weigh in before activity starts and then weigh out after they have concluded the activities.  For every pound lost during activity an additional 16 ounces should be consumed on top of what the athlete already is consuming. The goal is for the athlete’s weight to be back to the starting weight by the next practice. This ensures that the athlete is properly re-hydrated.

The easiest way to determine if you are properly hydrated is the color of your urine. It should be light like lemonade.

Lori Conklin, MOG Staff Athletic Trainer, graduated from Lenoir-Rhyne University (Hickory, NC) in 2006 with a B.S in Athletic Training and a B.A in K-12 Physical Education. Shortly after graduation she became Head Athletic Trainer at a local high school as part of an outreach program with Carolina’s Medical Center for 3 years before relocating to Memphis in 2008. Lori worked with Baptist Rehabilitation Germantown covering St. George’s Independent School from 2008-2010. Lori has been Head Athletic Trainer at Arlington High School for the past 5 years and has been with Memphis Orthopaedic Group since September 2013. Lori is also a part of an elite group of Athletic Trainers that covers a World Championship Cheerleading Competition that is held in Atlanta, Ga. annually.

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