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Remaining hydrated is an important part of any athlete’s scheme at success. The guess work at what, when and why to control hydration can be just as important. Photo Contributed

Hydration Guide- Prepare, Be Smart, Stay Healthy

MADISON- The primary cause of early fatigue for any athlete is dehydration. Drinking enough water before, during and at the conclusion of a workout is essential.

Local high school athletic teams are currently busting at the seams to get going in their preparation for the upcoming 2020-2021 school year. All athletes, no matter what level of skills they have nor the sport they are partaking in, will consider hydration during this time of year. Dehydration occurs when you use or lose more fluid than you take in, and your body doesn’t have enough water and other fluids to carry out its normal functions. The situation is simple- if you don’t replace lost fluids- you will be dehydrated.

“Can’t work without water,” said Wade Waldrop head coach of the James Clemens football program. “Our players are asked to bring their own water as we are not providing group water out of concern of COVID-19.”

At Madison Academy, head football coach Bob Godsey is also taking measures to keep his players and staff safe from the pandemic virus by not providing water and other refreshments during daily workouts. Instead, players are asked to bring a gallon jug of water each day for consumption during workouts, which Godsey is hosting early in the morning to allow for an acclimation period to the summer heat.

“We have always encouraged them to consume another gallon of fluid before they return the next day,” added Godsey. “We encourage them to drink water or sports drinks, but to stay away from soft drinks. Proper nutrition and eight hours of sleep is also encouraged.”

A lot of factors come into play upon planning on dehydration- weather conditions, time of day and type of workouts. In the summer months the risk of a heat illness is intensified and activity modifications must be made available for all participating athletes. Muscles within the body are made up of 70-percent water as water helps the body regulate temperature and supply oxygen to the muscles. Water helps keep stress levels in check and maximize recovery of used muscles.

For any athletes, it’s best to drink water before exercise. In addition, check your urine color as a pale yellow color of urine indicates you are well-hydrated. Recommendations from experts include drinking water during your exercise by tailoring water intake to the conditions. In addition, intake water after an exercise to replenish what was lost in sweat. Check your urine- if it’s dark yellow, more water is needed to fight of hydration.

Thirst is not always a reliable early indicator of the body’s need for water. Most people don’t feel thirsty until they’re already dehydrated and that is a main reason why it’s important to increase water intake during hot weather.

The Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA) mandated activity modifications for practice sessions during the current hot environment. Those protective measures include number of rest breaks and keeping a watchful eye on at-risk athletes. Coaches are urged to use a Heat Index chart to formulate practice sessions for heat safety.

“We are always on guard for signs of dehydration or heat stress,” said Godsey. “Everyone’s body handles heat/hydration a little different so we are on guard for any signs of heat stress. This plan has stood the test of time to keep our players safe and playing well.”

Runners especially seem to know their bodies extremely well. The elite runners will even dab into knowing their sweat rate, which in turn drains the sodium levels in the body. Sweat contains electrolytes- sodium, potassium, chloride and other minerals. Of all these, sodium takes the biggest hit from sweat loss, so it’s the most important to replace.

Dehydration will stop any athlete in their tracks long before their fuel reserves run low. A well-rounded game plan on hydration for any athletic endeavor is important, smart and healthy.

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