Hydration Tips for Athletes and Physical Therapy Patients

Aug 9, 2017

Gabe Lucas

by Gabe Lucas
PT, CSCS | Gilbert-Mesa Location

With the onset of school comes fall sports, which for Arizonians, means exercising in 100-degree temperatures during their training programs. During this time, it is especially important for athletes and physical therapy patients to stay hydrated for performance and safety.
Water regulates your body temperature as well as lubricates your joints. It helps transport nutrients to give you energy and keep you healthy. In athletes, severe cases of dehydration can cause post-extreme endurance syndrome or PEES. Symptoms of PEES include decreased body temperature, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness, headaches, muscle cramps, and an inability to keep fluids down. In order to avoid dehydration, it is crucial that athletes drink plenty of fluids before, during, and after their training.
During every healthy work out an athlete loses body weight due to water loss through sweating. However, when certain thresholds are met and passed, the loss of water weight begins to have a negative impact on your work out.
When athletes experience a loss of two percent body weight during exercise they will begin to demonstrate decreased performance. At three percent, athletes will be at an increased risk of developing heat exhaustion and injuries. Because of these negative consequences, the goal is to keep dehydration below two percent.
To help aid an athlete in these efforts, athletes can calculate their sweat rate, or the amount of fluid lost during workouts. Typical sweat rate ranges from one to three liters per hour.
How to calculate sweat rate:

  1. Weigh yourself before exercise (nude is best)
  2. Workout for one hour
  3. Drink a measured amount of fluid during workout
  4. Do not urinate during workout
  5. Weigh yourself again following workout (nude is best)

Once you have the data, it’s time for some simple math:

  1. Pre-exercise body weight – post exercise body weight = Change in body weight (one pound of fluid loss is equal to 16 ounces)
  2. Change in body weight (one pound of body weight is equal to 16 ounces) + volume of fluid consumed = sweat rate for one hour of exercise

Knowing your sweat rate is a fantastic tool to avoid dehydration, especially in this heat. Contact us at Foothills Sports Medicine Physical Therapy and schedule an appointment at a location near you for all your physical therapy needs.

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