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Hydration 101

Dehydration in athletes can lead to fatigue, headaches, decreased coordination, muscle cramping, and decreased performance. Other heat-related illnesses, such as heat exhaustion and heatstroke, have even more serious consequences. It’s important for athletes to pay attention to what and how much water they’re drinking before, during, and after exercise.

For a long run or workout, make sure you’re well-hydrated during the days leading up to the workout. Making sure you’re well-hydrated before a long workout will help decrease your chances of dehydration following the workout.

Try to drink at least 16 ounces of fluid an hour before beginning a workout. As a general rule of thumb, doctors suggest consuming four to six ounces of fluid every 20 minutes during a workout. In a longer or more intense workout, some of your fluid intake should include a sports drink or other replacement for minerals and electrolytes lost during the workout.

If you perspire heavily, you may lose a significant amount of weight due to sweat loss. After your workout, you may require a significant amount of fluids to replace this. A recovery drink may contain higher concentrations of protein and fat than your drink used during a workout. In fact, chocolate milk is often used for recovery, as it has an excellent balance of fluid, carbohydrate, fat, and protein. You should not resume exercise until all of your fluid loss has been replaced.

“Staying hydrated is important to avoid heat-related illnesses while walking or exercising outside, but even after exercising, you should continue to consume fluids throughout the day,” explains Dr. Andrew M. Blecher, sports medicine doctor at Southern California Orthopedic Institute.

For more information on avoiding dehydration, heat-related illnesses, and other sports medicine issues, follow Dr. Blecher on Twitter @the_jockdoc or call the doctors at Southern California Orthopedic Institute at (877) 952-8484.

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