Hockey is a high intensity and high performance sport. Did you know that in order to achieve a higher level of performance on the ice it is imperative to adopt a higher level of hydration? This initial article will focus on the importance of hydration, hydration, hydration, for higher levels of performance during the season. Each month, we will provide practical insight to help you increase your speed and recovery on and off the ice as well as experience a higher level of vitality throughout the year. Let’s get started!
Water is critical to our cells and is the center of life. We cannot live more than 3 days without any water intake. Many individuals live in a constant state of dehydration and are surprised when they begin to experience achy joints and muscles, headaches, migraines as well as fatigue. They fail to make the connection that these issues can be alleviated if not remedied by increasing the amount of water they consume on a daily basis. As an example, drinking water helps to reduce pain in the joints by keeping your cartilage soft and hydrated. This is actually how glucosamine works as it helps to increase cartilage’s absorption of water and as a result reduces joint pain. Many individuals also suffer from stomach pain or heartburn and fail to consider that it may be due to the lack of water, more to come on this in a future article.
Another reason that water is vital to our wellbeing is that it is also the single most critical nutrient for health, growth and development. A 2% drop in body water can cause a small but critical shrinkage of the brain, which can impair neuromuscular coordination, decrease concentration and slow thinking, not ideal while on the ice chasing the puck! By the time you are thirsty your body is already dehydrated and endurance is diminished, strength drops and the effect can last into the next day. Instead of relying on a signal, drink water at regular intervals regardless of whether you are thirsty. Moreover, the body perceives dehydration as a threat to survival and begins to hold onto every drop. Water is stored in extracellular spaces (outside the cell) which can result in swollen extremities (legs, feet and hands). Diuretics may offer temporary relief but may cause harm if abused. Why? Diuretics will cause the elimination of water, along with many essential nutrients. Regularly drinking plenty of water will eliminate this problem.
Another side effect of not drinking enough water is that is taxes our kidneys. Without sufficient water the kidneys are unable to remove the toxins from our body effectively as it lacks enough ‘fluid’ to flush our systems properly. Instead, the kidneys must work overtime to remove ‘sludge’ instead of fluid from our system and as such can’t properly clean the urea and uric acid (amongst other toxins) effectively. As the efficiency of the kidneys is reduced some of its functions are shunted to the liver. Since one of the liver’s primary functions is to metabolize stored fat into usable energy for the body, it cannot complete this task while standing in for and performing the functions normally assigned to the kidneys. This results in less stored fat being burned and of course a reduction in weight loss.
Furthermore, staying hydrated aids in our circulation and improves the ability of the blood to transport nutrients and oxygen throughout the system. Muscle tissue is approximately 75% water and the brain 85% water as such being dehydrated can lead to weakness, dizziness and electrolyte imbalance. It is recommended that an athletic person consume between 2-4 liters of water per day to prevent dehydration. This would mean consuming on average a thousand of litres per year. Keep in mind that if you are drinking tap water that’s a lot of H2O potentially contaminated with chlorine, bacteria, parasites, heavy metals and literally thousands of toxic industrial chemicals. It is recommended to consume purified water versus tap water throughout the day in between meals, at the gym and before, during & after workouts.
Since muscles are controlled by nerves, without the proper water and electrolyte balance muscle strength and control will also be impaired. The longer you train the more likely it is that you will experience "hitting the wall" or become exhausted and feel the ill effects of electrolyte loss primarily sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium and chloride. Electrolytes are considered important for athletes that push their bodies to the limit. To maintain your electrolyte balance it is important to consume quality products that have electrolytes in their formulation. Consider an electrolyte mix that can be added to your water. Consuming electrolytes will help to not only increase hydration but will help to restore the vital minerals lost via strenuous workouts.
For help selecting the right sports nutritional supplements for you and your family please visit Health on Main in the Giant Tiger plaza in Stouffville .
Dawn Forsyth, BA,CNP, RNCP,ROHP
Health on Main
5892 Main Street