Every fighter of every art all has one enemy in common, one that can end a day quicker and more brutal than any shot from another fighter. Of course, I am speaking about dehydration. Dehydration can cause a good day to end a lot quicker than one would want it to, merely because without proper hydration, the body will shut down, and not be able to continue with what you want it to do. And at least in my martial art, that being the Society for Creative Anachronism, the out of doors event season is quickly coming, so knowing more about dehydration is key to enjoying your time on the field.
Even mild dehydration causes a detriment to athletic performance. In fact, studies show that “…decrements in physical performance in athletes have been observed under much lower levels of dehydration, as little as 2%. 38 Under relatively mild levels of dehydration, individuals engaging in rigorous physical activity will experience decrements in performance related to reduced endurance, increased fatigue, altered thermoregulatory capability, reduced motivation, and increased perceived effort. 40, 41.” (See Water, Hydration and Health, by Barry Popkin, Kristen E. D’Anci and Irwin H. Rosenberg [Inline citations theirs.])
The obvious answer is to stay hydrated, but that is a concept that is actually a lot more difficult than one would surmise from such a simple statement. Between water, sports drinks, and various homeopathic remedies such as pickle juice and watered down coconut water, there are a multitude of things that you can partake of to quench your thirst but not all of them are created equal.
The first key that I know of for staying hydrated through a long day of fighting is to prehydrate. Prehydration is prepping your body the day before for what you are doing. If you aren’t already drinking 8-10 glasses of water a day (which you should be doing) then it is key to be drinking that amount the day before you go off to your event. Also, and this is just my suggestion, to truly be well prepared to fight, don’t partake in adult beverages the night before, or if you do, then take them in moderation. The truth behind a hangover is that it is dehydration, and none of us should look to start our day out in the red before we even start fighting.
Once you start your day, it’s a key thing to take breaks to have a glass or two of water. An infographic suggests having 7-10 ounces of water after every twenty minutes of exercise. As my good friend Philip pointed out to me, a standard water bottle is approximately 16.9 ounces. An Aquafina bottle tends to be 20 ounces. Further, it suggests that you have a full gram of electrolytes if you exercise for more than an hour. Basically, one doesn’t need sports drinks until they have exercised for more than an hour. It is every fighter’s duty to keep track of their own hydration level, but if your opponent is acting like they are suffering from the effects of dehydration, do them a solid, and make sure they take a break to get some fluids in them.
Once you have completed your hopefully full day of fighting, it’s time to finish out with proper hydration at the end of the day. Here is where electrolytes are super important to restore. My personal favorite beverage for rehydration is pickle juice, it’s got a taste I don’t find offensive and it works extremely well. Some of my friends include coconut water in their plan. Also available is sports drinks, but if you go that route, cut it in half with water. It will cut the sugar that is in it.
But in all things, our goal is to prevent injury. Dehydration injuries are some of the most preventable injuries that can occur on the field or in the salon. Let’s take care of each other out there!