Hyrdration: Improved Movement, Performance, and Recovery

With the hot summer months rapidly approaching (finally!), it is important to talk a little bit about hydration. Often times as CrossFitters, our two main concerns are 1) the workouts and 2) our nutrition, in terms of our diet. But staying hydrated is just as crucial, and if the body does not have sufficient water these other two areas will suffer.

What Does it Mean to be Hydrated?

Hydration is commonly thought of simply in terms of water intake. And while how much water you drink is an important aspect of hydration, it does not tell the whole story. All the water in the world is of no use if it's just passing right through the body and being excreted as urine. We need plenty of water intake combined with the proper nutrients so that the body can effectively use that water.

One of those key nutrients is sodium. Sodium itself does not hydrate the body, but it's presence (along with potassium and other electrolytes) is what allows the body to properly use the water it's taking in. Many of you have low sodium diets based around lean meats and vegetables and that's a good thing, as there are proven health benefits to keeping salt intake relatively low. But especially during the next few months, make sure you consume enough salt to 1) counter what you're sweating out, and 2) allow your body to fully utilize the water you're drinking.

Hydration and Mobility

If your body is unable to move through proper positions and full ranges of motion, your performance in our workouts will be adversely affected. This is one of the main reasons we place such an emphasis on mobility: if, for example, you can't get a barbell into a good overhead position over the center of your foot, a workout with a bunch of shoulder-to-overheads is going to be significantly harder for you.

Hydration has a really big effect on mobility. Youve all probably experienced that stiff feeling through your body when dehydrated (such as the morning after a late night out) that feeling is literally the sliding surfaces of the body (think tissues and nerve beds) not being able to move as well as they normally do. So staying hydrated is going to help prevent mobility issues, which in turn is going to improve your performance.

Water: Before, During and After

Often times, individuals don't make sure that they're properly hydrated before they start working out. Its not as easy to remember simply because we're generally not as thirsty prior to exercise. But getting enough water in the hours (not just the minutes) leading up to your workout is important, because this helps your body avoid that near-dehydration danger zone during the WOD.

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Whether you need to be hydrating in the midst of a WOD depends heavily on the specifics of the workout and the weather conditions. Common sense provides pretty solid guidance here. If it's a quick, high-intensity burner in the 4-7 minute range, you probably won't need to take water breaks. If it's a 20 minute AMRAP that includes a bunch of 400 meter runs in the summer sun, you'd better have a water bottle handy. If in doubt, have your water nearby in case you need it but don't use it as a crutch to take excessively long breaks, a la the over-chalking of the hands that some of you are familiar with.

Rehydration after a workout is of equal importance. Often times, an athlete doesn't feel thirsty immediately after he finishes exercising, but he should force himself to rehydrate nonetheless. According to a study in the article linked at the bottom, A high rate of fluid consumption during the first two hours of post-exercise rehydration is known to increase plasma volume significantly and to result in substantial urine production. That is to say, in order to recover fully and quickly, your body needs water and likely some carbohydrates, too, to refuel your glycogen stores (a banana is a great option here).

Wrapping it Up

So how much water should one drink? As alluded to earlier, this depends on a number of factors, but a good rule of thumb is to divide your bodyweight by 2 and drink this number of ounces of water per day. So I weigh about 170 pounds, which would suggest I should be drinking about 85 ounces of water each day. Note that this merely provides a baseline, as it doesn't take into consideration A) an individuals activity level, which affects how much he or she is sweating out, and B) whether an athlete is taking in enough other nutrients, such as salt, in order to absorb that water.

Be smart with your hydration this summer. Monitor your water intake, and make sure that you are getting plenty of fluids before, during, and after a workout. Proper hydration combined with the nutrients necessary for the body to utilize that water is vitally important to efficient movement, performance, recovery, and general overall health.

A final thing before I go. Credit for this article goes to Meadowlands Orthodontics. They're a world-class and orthodontic surgeon in Hamilton based in Ontario. The concept for this post came to me while conversing with Dr. Andy Ho there. One thing led to another and we ended up discussing this issue in detail. Anyway, check their website out at http://meadowlandsortho.com. That's all for the moment!

Article Resources

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Posted in Dentistry Post Date 02/11/2015






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