July 6th, 2012

Health N' Sports: Heat And Hydration

Staff Report

Health N' Sports: Heat And Hydration
photo from momsteam.com

Beat the heat with these tips from the Sports Rehab Team

As a part of the Louisville Orthopaedic Clinic, the Sports Rehab Team physical therapists are knowledgeable and trained in the latest advancements and techniques available in sports rehabilitation. 

On a weekly basis, the Health N’ Sports Update will give information on prevention, recovery, and include special offers, as well as general health tips that would be beneficial to all. If there is a specific topic you’d like to know or hear more about, email future suggestions to editor@catholicsportsnet.com. 


Temperatures have risen over the past few weeks, raising challenges for any athletes.  Three important heat-related issues to look out for are cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke.

Heat cramps are painful muscle spasms usually involving the legs (hamstrings and calves), and occasionally the arms and abdominals.  It is best to stop exercising when these occur and drink a lot of fluids.

Heat exhaustion is a more severe effect of exercising in high temperatures.  Symptoms may include dizziness, faintness, fatigue, nausea, heavy sweating and/or cool skin with goose bumps even in the heat.  This condition could lead to something more severe and it is important to stop activity, hydrate, and get to a cooler place immediately. 

Heat stroke is diagnosed if your body temperature reaches or exceeds 104 degrees.  Young children and older adults are especially susceptible to this condition, and if untreated it can lead to the brain, heart, kidneys, and muscles.  Warning signs are extremely high body temperature, lack of sweating, rapid pulse and breathing rate, confusion, and even unconsciousness.  It is important to seek medical attention immediately, as intravenous fluids may be required.

Proper hydration is essential to everyone in order to maintain your health. It becomes even more important for exercisers who may lose excessive amounts of fluid through sweat output, and as temperatures begin to rise. Water is perhaps the most important nutrient for human life, as it helps regulate body temperature, lubricate joints, and transport other nutrients and waste through the body.

The biggest mistake many exercisers make is waiting until they feel thirsty to drink. Thirst is actually an indicator of mild dehydration, meaning they are behind the hydration curve. It is important to pre-hydrate before exercise, hydrate during exercise, and then replace lost fluids after exercise. It is impossible to make specific recommendations because of the variability of individual needs, but the following guidelines will help get you started and can be tailored to your individual needs.

Before exercise:

            Drink 15-20 ounces 2-3 hours before exercise.

            Drink 8-10 ounces 10-15 minutes before exercise. 

During exercise:

            Drink 8-10 ounces every 10-15 minutes of exercise.

If exercising more than 90 minutes consider adding 8-10 ounces of sports drink every 15-30 minutes (this also helps to stimulate thirst).

After exercise

Weigh yourself before and after exercise and drink 20-24 ounces of water every pound lost.

In hot climates, or during high intensity exercise, these needs may need to be increased to meet the body’s increased demands. Losing as little as two percent of body weight during exercise can result in a drop in blood volume. This can lead to cramps, dizziness, fatigue, and heat illness.

Even smaller losses can result in decreased physical performance. If you notice signs of dehydration or heat illness such as confusion, dizziness, lethargy, or light-headedness, seek emergency care immediately as these could be the first signs of life-threatening complications.

Erin Fidler, MPT

Louisville Orthopaedic Clinic & Sports Rehab Center

Main Office: 502-897-1794

Physical Therapy: 502-897-1790


Website: louortho.com

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