Editor’s note: This article by Dev Mishra, M.D. (president of Sideline Sports Doc) first appeared in SoccerAmerica. Sideline Sports Doc is advancing the Players First pillar of Player Health & Safety through resources that include an online injury recognition training course.
Hydration is an absolutely essential element in Player Health & Safety, and proper hydration can even boost performance. It's important to begin hydrating before the physical activity, not during it. It is also critical not to overlook recovery, after the activity. Dr. Mishra recommends low-fat chocolate milk as a great recovery drink.
While the exact amount of fluid an athlete requires for physical activity varies based on the intensity and duration of the activity - as well as weather conditions and clothing/equipment - high school aged athletes generally need 10-12 cups of fluid per day. This should be consumed during meals and snacks so they are already properly hydrated when they begin exercise. During exercise, it is healthy for high school athletes to drink 4-8 ounces every 15-20 minutes.
One of the most practical methods to tell how hydrated one is, is checking the color of urine. If your urine is dark less than two hours before activity, you should drink more fluids before that activity.
Here are Dr. Dev Mishra's tips to prevent dehydration and heat illness:
• Sports drinks are an excellent choice for hydration. Athletes can usually find a flavor they like, and the electrolytes (like sodium chloride) will stimulate thirst, help the body hold onto fluid, reduce the chance of cramping, and possibly improve performance.
• Water is fine too, for events lasting up to about two hours.
• Avoid any drinks with caffeine or high fructose corn syrup, and no carbonated sodas. “Energy drinks” such as Red Bull contain caffeine and should be avoided.
• I like low-fat chocolate milk as another after-game alternative
• The athlete should have 12-16 ounces of fluid up until about 30 minutes before the game or practice (remember that most sports drinks come in 20 ounce bottles).
• Keep sipping sports drinks or water during the practice or game, about 4 ounces at a time at the end of periods or halftime.
• Start re-hydrating within 20 minutes of the conclusion of the game. Research shows that the first 20 minutes are the most efficient time to start refueling. Try to take in 20 ounces; no need to guzzle this down, but once you start drinking try to finish the bottle over the next several minutes.
Read the entire article on SoccerAmerica’s Youth Soccer Insider.
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