Orthopedic ONE Training Tip #11

Drink Up: The Role of Hydration in Optimizing Performance


We’ve all heard how important it is to drink plenty of water before, during and after exercise, but have you ever stopped to think about how large of a role hydration plays in ensuring that an athlete is able to perform at their peak level? We’ve gathered some helpful info from the National Athletic Trainers’ Association that will make you want to fill up your favorite water bottle! 

In order to stay properly hydrated, how much water should be consumed and when? To answer the first part of this question, it is important to take into consideration a person’s body size, metabolism, activity level, what kinds of foods they eat and external factors, such as weather. Athletes must gauge how much water they require to perform their daily functions and how much additional water they must drink during physical activity.  


Before Exercise 

It is recommend that athletes consume between 16-24 fl.oz. within two hours of exercise and an additional 7-10 fl.oz. 10- 20 minutes prior to exercise.

If an athlete is exercising in extreme hot, cold or humid conditions, or at high altitudes, it is helpful for them to record the athlete’s weight. This will help establish how much water is lost during their workout and how much they must drink to replenish their hydration levels.

When conditions are hot and humid or if an athlete is performing an especially long or taxing workout (such as speed work or an increase in distance), sometimes just drinking water isn’t enough.  Water does not contain electrolytes, which are minerals found in blood and other body fluids that can impact performance. In these cases, it is recommended that athletes also incorporate sport drinks into their hydration rotation.


During Exercise 

Athletes should aim to drink 6-12 fl.oz. every 10-20 minutes during a typical training session.


After Exercise 

Once an athlete completes their work out for the day, they should record their weight again and aim to consume 16-24 fl.oz. for each pound lost over the next 2 to 6 hours.


What happens if an athlete fails to stay properly hydrated during periods of activity? Dehydration, which is defined as decrease of 2% in body weight, can have a negative impact on an athlete’s performance. If an athlete feels thirsty, has dark urine or notices a significant drop in body weight from the day before, they may be experiencing dehydration. Additional signs to look for include headache, weakness, dizziness, muscle cramps, nausea, irritability and decreased performance.