Ask Athletic Trainer Erik Collins: How Do Good Hydration Habits Improve Your Game?
Athletes are always looking for an edge. Hydration is an easy detail to overlook, but athletic trainer Erik Collins explains how staying hydrated can improve your game—and your overall health.
Our body’s systems require water to perform at their best. We know we need to stay hydrated, but knowing how much water to drink, and when to drink it, is a bit trickier. Athletic trainer Erik Collins shares some general tips that he uses with his athletes to keep them well hydrated and performing at their best.
Teaching good hydration habits
“We all want to take good care of our body,” says Erik. “When I’m educating my players about how to stay in the best condition throughout the sports season, I teach them to be disciplined about daily habits like hydration. Drinking enough water every day may seem like a little thing, but it’s a little thing that can make a big difference in performance.”
How hydration affects the body
Whether you want to train your body for optimal athletic performance, or develop habits that will support a lifetime of better health, good hydration serves you in more ways than you might realize.
- Water provides the cushioning your joints need to remain healthy and function smoothly.
- When you are hydrated, your body is more able to regulate your body temperature.
- Liquids help to maintain a healthy balance of electrolytes in your body.
- Adequate hydration helps to protect your organs and soft tissues.
- Proper hydration helps to maintain normal blood pressure and heart function.
- Water supports digestion, brings oxygen and nutrients to your cells, and assists in flushing bacteria and other impurities through your liver and kidneys.
How much water do I need?
“There isn’t a universal hard-and-fast rule about how much water every person needs to drink, but there are some general guidelines that anyone can follow,” Erik explains. “One of the points I stress with my athletes is that hydration should be continual, and it starts the night before the game—not the day of! Thirst is your body’s way of telling you that you are dehydrated. If players are thirsty and drinking water during practice because they didn’t hydrate earlier, they are already dehydrated.”
Recognize the signs of dehydration
The signs of dehydration include:
- Feelings of weakness.
- Low blood pressure, which can cause dizziness or confusion.
- Urine that is dark in color.
“The best way to stay hydrated is to make a practice of drinking water throughout the day,” says Erik. “If your body is hydrated, you are going to perform better whether you are competing on the field or simply going about your daily activities.”
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