- ROBERT WOODSON
RAW SPORTS CO-FOUNDER & DEFENSIVE BACK FOR THE TORONTO ARGONAUTS
We have all been told that hydration is important, right? However, without the exact reasons why, it can be difficult to prioritize hydration. I know that for most of my football career, I did not prioritize staying hydrated as much as I should have. This was not because I didn’t know it was important, but because I didn’t know the reasons why it was important and what some of the implications might be if I didn’t hydrate properly. It can be easy to overlook hydration as an important aspect of performance, especially with the “instant results” propaganda being pushed on the internet and social media.
and is experienced when the body is already dehydrated. Dehydration can cause many bodily functions to worsen and many of these functions are not only important for general health but also for athletic performance and injury prevention. Recent studies point to a reduction in blood flow to muscles during a state of dehydration, this can wreak havoc on muscle function. Studies have shown that dehydration has a negative effect on balance and neuromuscular control, which both are very strong predictors of injury. Another very important aspect of staying properly hydrated is to maintain proper electrolyte levels. Studies show that electrolyte depletion worsens muscle endurance, which can lead to strains and sprains.
Through my experiences, I have learned the importance of hydration the hard way. Most of my muscle injuries (strains, tears etc.) have occurred when I was in a dehydrated state. Although I wouldn't say that this was the sole reason I sustained these injuries, it definitely played a role.
95 OZ of water per day. Consuming foods and drinks rich in electrolytes is another good habit to add to your daily routine. The 5 most important electrolytes for athletes are sodium, chloride, potassium, calcium and magnesium. Some high electrolyte foods that I keep in my diet are bananas, potatoes, kale, and avocado. Coconut water and sports drinks are also a good source of electrolytes. Something that has helped me improve my hydration habits is to always carry a water bottle around with me, and to know exactly how many bottles of water I need to drink to meet my daily goal. For example, my current water bottle carries 32 OZ of water, therefore I need to drink at least 3 bottles of water per day to stay hydrated.
As athletes we look to control as many variables as we can that will lead to high performance as well as staying healthy. Staying hydrated might not be the most exciting or talked about aspect of performance, but it may be one of the most important as well as one of the easiest to control. Making proper hydration a habit should be a top priority for any athlete.