By: John Gallucci, Jr., MS, ATC, DPT
President, JAG-ONE Physical Therapy
Medical Coordinator, Major League Soccer
Hydration is one of the most important factors to consider when participating in any sport, especially those performed outdoors such as soccer. Dehydration is a serious concern and can result in such problems as fatigue, muscle cramps, nausea, disorientation and even heat stroke.
When our body sweats we not only lose water, but also important electrolytes such as sodium and potassium that help to keep our muscles functioning properly and all of our organs working. If these are not replenished, along with the water lost from sweating, it can lead to serious conditions such as kidney failure and loss of consciousness. Because of this, hydration is paramount to athletes of all ages when playing soccer. Follow these tips to ensure you stay properly hydrated on and off the field:
- Hydration should begin before you start activity. Make sure to drink steadily before, during and after activity instead of waiting until you feel thirsty to begin drinking.
- Sports drinks are helpful to restore electrolytes but replacing the water lost is also very important. An easy trick to find out how much water you lose is to weigh yourself before and after practice and see the difference. For each pound you lost you should drink approximately 20 ounces of water.
- In hot and humid conditions, modify your activity when possible to take more breaks and drink more often. These conditions are very dangerous because your body sweats more and loses electrolytes quickly.
- Finally, after a long workout, a sports drink with protein in it can be helpful to better absorb nutrients and help muscles to recover.
By following these easy tips you can keep yourself properly hydrated and improve your performance on the field. If you suspect you are suffering from any dehydration related illness you should immediately stop activity and seek medical assistance from your athletic trainer or emergency personnel as it can be a life threatening situation.
For more information in regards to the importance of hydration in soccer, please be sure to check out Soccer Injury Prevention and Treatment: A Guide to Optimal Performance for Players, Parents, and Coaches written by John Gallucci Jr., MS, ATC, PT, DPT.