Through the summer months, the combination of high temperatures and humidity can put a strain on athletes.
Here are some tips on staying hydrated from Dr. Steven Kane, Chief of Sports Medicine at Atlanta Medical Center and Medical Director for the Atlanta Public Schools athletics program.
• Drink water beforehand. Have plenty of water in your system BEFORE you compete. Most athletes begin drinking water only after they begin activities and their thirst impulse becomes noticeable. You need to start drinking water at least an hour ahead of athletic activities.
• Alcohol depletes you. If you drank alcohol the night before a competition, you likely are already low on fluids. Alcohol, in addition to its other effects, works as a diuretic and that means your fluid levels have already been depleted, which also means that the 1.5 bottles of water you drink before the competition are not likely going to be enough. You might want to consider beginning with an additional bottle of water three hours prior to a regular hydration schedule.
• “How do I know that I am hydrated?” Weigh yourself when you are well hydrated and then compare it to when you are not hydrated and see the difference. Another way is to check the color of your urine. If your urine is a darker yellow color, you are not drinking enough water.
• Water management during competition. Constant water intake is essential. Drink as much as you can to satisfy your thirst and then a little more. Your body is pretty good about letting you know when to drink but not particularly adept about telling you how much. So drink what your body wants and add a couple of good swallows on top of it and you should be fine.
• Sports drinks. Your body loses minerals such as sodium and potassium during athletics, so it is a good idea to replenish them. Drink any of the standard sports drinks in equal amounts with water as the competition or activity progresses. In this way, you will replenish mineral loss, and most of the drinks have varying amounts of sugar to provide energy.