This Guest Post is by Randi Kirchofner, a certified Nutritional Therapy Practitioner at Vitality Health Centers, LLC.
Did You Know that Dehydration & Heat Exposure Will Kill Your Game?
I know, it’s not a sexy topic but something as basic as hydration could be the reason you’re seeing your game down downhill.
Dehydration can be one of the greatest stresses we experience, and the summer heat while on the course can enhance this stress.
The human body is 25% solid and 75% water. Water is involved in all the biological processes of the body. It carries nutrients where they need to go, lubricates our joints and organs, and feeds the processes in the brain.
Dehydration hinders all these processes and can also cause inflammation in the body.
Joint pain may well be a thirst signal from your body. Cartilage has a high concentration of water. This reserve of fluid allows the cartilage to have an almost friction free movement in the joint. Water is the lubricant protecting the contact surfaces of the joint.
In well-hydrated joints, friction damage to the cartilage is low.
In dehydrated cartilage, the chance of abrasive damage will increase. The water used to hydrate the joints comes from deep within the bone marrow and moves through the bone. There must be enough water available to feed not only the bone, and the cartilage, but also the new growing cells that are also competing for hydration inside the bone marrow.
We all think we are getting enough water every day – but are we?
This does not take into account diuretic causing drinks such as soda, coffee, tea and fruit juice that actually cause the body to lose water, nor does it take into account exposure to heat and sweating.
Your body weight ÷ 2 = ounces of water needed each day (not to exceed 100 ounces)
So if you weigh 180 lbs ÷ 2 = 90 ounces of water per day. That is almost 3-quarts.
The more an individual sweats, the more water they must drink to avoid dehydration.
To decrease the risk of dehydration, water must be consumed before, during and after activity.
Assuming you are drinking enough water already and your body is hydrated the following will decrease your risk of dehydration.
16 oz of water no more than 2 hours before activity
8 oz of water every 15-20 minutes or 16-24 oz per hour during activity
36 oz of water over the next 24 hours while your body recovers from the activity
This is just a guideline.
The heat you’re playing in as well as the amount of fluids the body loses through sweat and respiration will affect the amount of water you need. You must be careful to not drink too much fluid as it can wash out your electrolytes and can lead to a dangerously low blood sodium level (hyponatremia).
Aim to drink enough to replace what you have lost.
You may want to consider an electrolyte drink to replace minerals you may have lost. For a natural alternative to the highly colored and sweetened store bought versions mix 50% water with 50% pure coconut water ( my favorite is Blue Monkey) and add a pinch of sea salt. There are also electrolyte tablets, such as Nuun, that you can add to water to replace electrolytes lost during the round.
So how do you know when enough is enough?
The first way you can assess if you are dehydrated is tenting of the skin on the back of your hand.
Pinch the skin and pull upward on the back of your hand and then release. The skin should return to normal immediately within one second.
If the skin maintains the tenting appearance dehydration should be considered.
The second way to self-test for dehydration is a little more sensitive.
Stand with one hand lowered at your side for 30 seconds. Look at the back of your hand for an obvious raised vein. Now raise your hand to chest level and watch what happens.
If the vein disappears or loses its raised appearance in less than 30 seconds, dehydration is probable, in less than 15 seconds dehydration is an issue.
Here’s the important thing to remember…
If you are thirsty, you are about 2% dehydrated. This can cause a loss of energy and impaired performance. A 5% loss can cause nausea, vomiting, and muscle cramps. At 7% hallucinations and loss of coordination can occur. And a 10% loss may result in circulatory collapse and death.
Here are some guidelines to optimize your performance and prevent dehydration:
Take a couple of weeks to acclimate to the heat. Don’t jump on 18 holes if you haven’t acclimated yet.
Do not golf is the heat is over 98°F/36°C
Make sure you drink before, during and after you play
If your urine is darker than a chardonnay, drink water and do one of the other dehydration self-tests.
After you play cool yourself immediately. Get out of the sun into a cooler environment.
If you heart rate is elevated cool the inside of your body with cold water and the outside with an ice pack at the base of your head on the neck.
Wear light colored, lightweight, moisture wicking clothing
Don’t let your game and your health slip from something as easy to control as hydration. Your swing will thank you for it!
Randi Kirchofner, LMT, NTP, CPC
Owner of Vitality Health Centers
Randi Kirchofner is the owner of Vitality Health Centers, a Natural Health & Massage Center in Idaho Falls, Idaho. She has nearly two decades of experience specializing in pain management massage and nutritional therapy. She is also the author of Fast Fodd to Fabulous, a 90-day program to reboot and reset the body from years of stress.