Proper Hydration Before, During and After Sports

Did you know even mild dehydration can cause an adverse effect on a child’s athletic performance? With fall athletic programs in full swing and the weather still summer warm, it’s crucial that coaches, athletes and parents remain vigilant about proper hydration.

Proper Hydration Before, During and After SportsWhen young athletes become dehydrated, their core body temperature will quickly rise, which leads to more rapid dehydration. You can help prevent this by knowing the signs and symptoms of dehydration, including:

  • Muscle cramps
  • Weakness
  • Sudden decline in performance
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fainting
  • Decreased sweating
  • Increased heart rate
  • Sunken eyes
  • Irritability
  • Headaches
  • Dark urine

Maintaining adequate fluid levels is essential for every athlete. And it needs to happen before, during and after they “hit the field.” The amount of water will depend on the athlete’s size and age, but here’s a broad guideline:

Before Activity:

  • Drink 4-8 oz. of water one to two hours before activity
  • Drink 4-8 oz. of water 10-15 minutes before activity

During Activity:

  • Drink 5-9 oz. of water or sports drink every 20-30 minutes
  • Diluted sports drinks are recommended for quicker adsorption of electrolytes, if the child has been active for more than 60 minutes.

After Activity:

  • Drink at least 24 oz. of water or sports drink for every pound of weight lost throughout activity

One of the most important functions of water is to cool the body. During exercise, muscles generate heat, which lead to increased body temperature. As this happens, the body will begin to sweat. When sweat evaporates, it cools the body. If the body has not received an adequate amount of water to replace the fluid lost from sweating, it will start to overheat. This is an extremely important when dealing with young athletes.

For one thing, children are more prone to heat-related side effects because they absorb heat quicker than adults. And, as many of us know, they don’t often think of rest and rehydration when playing sports and having fun. Until they can understand the importance of proper hydration , the responsibility falls on their coaches, trainers and parents. So remember, lets keep our young athletes hydrated!

Alfred A. DeSimone, MD
Director of Sports Medicine
Board Certified Orthopaedic Surgeon