No matter the season, it is important for athletes to stay hydrated in order to perform at their highest level. However, during the warmer months, dehydration is a very serious topic for not only athlete performance, but general safety and well-being. As the temperature goes up, so too does athlete perspiration.
When an athlete sweats, they lose electrolytes such as sodium and potassium. When an athlete depletes their body of fluids and electrolytes without replenishing them, they put themselves in grave danger.
Here are four dehydration warning signs athletes should take seriously:
Dark Colored Urine With Strong Odor
This is one of the easiest ways to catch dehydration at an early stage. If an athlete’s urine is dark yellow it is a good time to start drinking some water and stop the problem before it even starts.
Prolonged Weight Loss During Exercise
Weight loss of 2% or more during a training session is a good indicator of dehydration. That would be approximately 2.5-pounds of weight lost for an athlete weighing 125 pounds. Weight loss during exercise is not fat loss — so stay hydrated before, during and after training and bring plenty of fluids to games and practices.
Muscle cramps can be another sign of dehydration and electrolyte imbalance. Consuming a sports drink like Gatorade during exercise bouts longer than four hours or when under extreme heat conditions can help prevent muscle cramps. This does not mean an athlete needs a sports drink for one hour of exercise — water would be much more beneficial to them than Gatorade.
Dizziness, Nausea and Fatigue
If an athlete is experiencing dizziness, nausea and fatigue, it is important to immediately begin consuming water or a sports drink and rest. Also, it is important to avoid caffeine, as caffeine will increase urine output.
When you recognize any of these four dehydration warning signs, tell a coach or parent and begin hydrating immediately. Have fun and be safe this summer during your training sessions.