Is Your Child Getting Enough Water This Summer?

It should go without saying that living in Arizona makes it difficult for anyone to stay hydrated in the summer. But for young athletes it is particularly difficult.

First, obviously, they are out exercising in extreme temperatures (even in the morning it can be over 98 degrees). Second, their bodies don’t tolerate excessive temperatures the way adults do because they haven’t fully developed cooling mechanisms like sweating so kids can overheat more quickly than adults.  Finally, they will tend to just keep playing and not think about continually drinking to stay hydrated. Kids being kids, (even when they are thirsty) they will just keep-on going not recognizing the first signs of dehydration.

So, aside from just keeping your young athlete from over-heating, sports performance diminishes with even the slightest bit of dehydration. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) reports that even a 2% decrease in total body water results in a decrease in aerobic exercise performance. Although this may not apply as readily to sprinting sports such as basketball, football, or baseball, the ACSM also reports that this same 2% decrease may decrease mental function, a fact that would apply to all athletics.

Even more critical than sports performance is that, left unchecked, dehydration can rapidly accelerate to heat exhaustion and stroke.

In order to be properly hydrated during practice and at game time, it is important that your child drink enough fluids beforehand.  It is recommended that as early as 4 hours before vigorous exercise, athletes should take-in at least 1-2 cups of fluids. The urine color should then be monitored 2 hours later.  If the urine color is still darker than a light yellow, another ½ to 1 cup of beverage should be ingested.  Drinks with proper amounts of sodium (e.g., Gatorade) or pre-game meals containing sodium can aid in fluid retention and stimulate the athlete to drink enough to be fully hydrated.  During the game, how much to ingest will depend on many variables including the sport, weather conditions, and size of the athlete.  Therefore, the ACSM recommends that athletes monitor weight change during practice and games.


Now, we all know that weighing a kid before, during and after practices and games isn’t always practical. So a good rule of thumb to keep water, and electrolyte, levels up during exercise is to drink fluids every 10 to 15 minutes during activity. If it is particularly hot make sure to have the athlete take in water as well an electrolyte replacement drink. Parents, it is a good idea to teach your kids to drink at regular intervals.

After exercise, it is essential to replenish the body’s fluid and nutrient levels. Under normal circumstances, normal meals and drinks will restore proper hydration levels. However, if the athlete has to rehydrate quickly (e.g., play the second of a doubleheader on 2 hours rest), a faster remedy will need to be used. To accomplish this, weight loss should be measured and about 3 cups of fluid should be ingested for every pound lost. Light amounts of foods and drinks containing sodium will also be helpful to promote fluid retention.

 Signs of dehydration to watch for in your child are:

  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Cramping
  • Difficulty in coordination
  • Excessive thirst

Hydration is as important for optimal performance as practice and good equipment. Carrying out this vital task properly ensures that your athlete has the proper nutrients during key times in the big games and, more importantly, that they learn good habits to function healthfully and avoid injury for the rest of their life.



American College of Sports Medicine. Exercise and Fluid Replacement. Med Sci Sports

Exerc. 39(2):377-390, 2007.


In almost all aspects in today’s society, it seems like kids are acting and performing much older than their age. From communication on the internet, to sociologic decisions to participating in sports.

The level of sophistication is advanced compared to many years ago.

Unfortunately, the development of the body has not and will never catch up to the demands of today’s world. We are seeing more and more injuries in those who participate in sports as kids and those injuries are more similar to those we see in adults. If we cannot force Mother Nature to adjust as quickly as we would like then we must make adjustments ourselves so that we can prevent some of these injuries.48 million young people participate in sports between the ages of 5 and 18. There are 2 million High School Athletes who are responsible for 500,000 doctor visits and 30,000 hospitalizations each year. Injuries are going to occur, but The Center for Disease Control estimates ½ of the injuries in youth sports are preventable. Here are some ways to decrease the risk we all take when participating in sport.

1. Equipment: Each sport has its own equipment.One of the easiest and best ways to prevent some injuries is to make sure that the equipment used is in good shape and is fitted well. This is critical in sports, such as football, baseball and hockey, where there is a large amount of equipment worn. Helmets, shoulder pads, hip and thigh pads as well as others need to be sized well so that they can serve the functions that they were designed. This includes one of the more hated to wear pieces of equipment, the mouth guard. Each association has equipment fitting specification of their websites and should be reviewed prior to purchasing.

2. Build a Strong Foundation: Once the sport is picked and the equipment fit properly, it is important to learn the fundamentals and basic techniques. Many injuries are caused by the athlete attempting to perform tasks they are not ready for or doing something incorrectly. Unfortunately some youth sport coaches are well intentioned but not well trained. Seek out leagues that have their coaches go through training and certification processes that ensure they know how to coach the fundamentals of the sport. This makes the sport more fun for the athlete as well as safer for all. As the skill of the athlete improves, it is also important to learn the proper performance training techniques. The demands of the sport on the body demand proper preparation. Organizations such as the National Strength and Conditioning Association have strict criteria and maintain certification, CSCS, for those who specialize in how to properly train athletes of all ages. 

3. Warm-up & Cool down: Do not be in a rush to either play the game or, once the game is over, get on to the next task. Proper warm up and cool down is critical for injury prevention. At one time pre game or practice routines were long static stretches. We now know that stretches held for long periods of time will cause weakness for the short term. This is why we do more dynamic type stretching and warming up prior to participation. It is important to get the muscles warm and to achieve the proper length in a dynamic way so that they are prepared to do the functions we are about to ask of them. The PEP program was developed by Southern California University specifically for female soccer and was shown to significantly decrease the incidence of ACL injuries in that population. Other similar programs have been developed and can be accessed through a strength and conditioning specialist. Once the game or practice is complete than a proper cool down is needed. This is when the longer held stretching is done so that as the muscle cools it is maintained in a lengthened position. 

4. Hydration: Another critical aspect in both injury prevention and performance is hydration levels. Especially in Arizona it is very important to maintain proper hydration levels. This needs to be maintained at all times not just prior to or during the athletic event. Monitor urine colors. The color of the athletes urine should be equivalent to lemon aide not apple juice. Make sure that the athlete is drinking water throughout the day, every day. For every 2% decrease in hydration levels, there is a 10% decrease in muscle performance. There have also been correlations made between dehydration and slower reaction times as well as poor decision making. Both of these can lead to potential injuries. It is recommended on game or practice day to drink 10 – 15 oz 2 – 3 hours prior, 8 – 10 oz 15 minutes prior and 8 -10 oz every 15 to 20 minutes of participation.

5. Diversify: One troubling aspect of youth sports in today’s society is the trend to specialize in one sport earlier and earlier. This specialization has lead to overuse injuries where we used to not see. Playing multiple sports will reduce the overuse stress placed on tissues as well as to help develop overall athletic skills instead of just those used in one sport. As the athlete develops, and the body matures, then the risk of the overuse and repetitive trauma decreases.Sports for young people can be fun, rewarding and safe with just some proper preparations. Do not shy away from having your child participate in sport to avoid the risk of injury. Take the precautions and preparations listed above so that your child can take full advantage of what sports can offer.

 To recap: 

  • Use the proper equipment and make sure that it is in good working order and fitted correctly.
  • Learn the fundamentals of the sport and get the correct training.
  • Perform a good dynamic warm up and proper cool down.
  • Maintain an adequate hydration level.
  • Do not be in a rush to specialize in one sport. Participate in a number of sports to acquire more all around athletic skills and reduce overuse and repetitive trauma.



It’s hard enough as an adult to regulate body temperature and water consumption in the hot Arizona sun. With kids, it’s even more critical!

With the arrival of summer in Arizona one thing comes to mind HEAT!  As children get out school and start summertime activities it is important to guard against a very real danger, heat exhaustion/heat stroke.  Heat exhaustion/heat stroke is a heat related illness that occurs when the body cannot adequately cool itself through sweating.   Typically, heat exhaustion/heat stroke occurs when temperatures reach greater than 90 degrees F, or in other words every day in an Arizona summer.   Children are at a greater risk of getting heat exhaustion/heat stroke because their sweat rate is lower than that of adults.  The symptoms of heat exhaustion/heat stroke that parents should be looking for are heavy sweating, paleness, muscle cramps, dizziness, headache, nausea or vomiting.  As heat exhaustion progresses to heat stroke the victim may get confused as well.  In order to prevent heat stroke, parents should make sure that children hydrate before summertime activities in which they will be outside for an extended time (one hour or more).

Guidelines for hydration:

  • The hydration process starts the night before, kids should drink at least 32 oz. of extra fluid the night before (soda does not count , only water, Gatorade and fruit juice)
  • The day of the activity the child should drink 16 to 32 oz. of fluid 2 hours before (this allows time to assimilate the fluid)
  • During the activity the child should drink 8 oz. every 20-30 min.
  • After the activity 1 oz. of fluid should be consumed for every 1 oz. of fluid lost.
  • If your child has any of the symptoms of heat stroke especially confusion, nausea or vomiting seek medical attention immediately.

Have fun and stay safe this summer from all of us at Foothills Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine.