Avoiding Dehydration

By Dr. Michael Gray

I want you enjoy the 3WB competitions and have an injury free experience. As a top performing athlete you’ll be faced with many challenges. One of the greatest challenges is dealing with the heat.  


First, I want to address the topic of dehydration. In physiology and medicine terms, dehydration is the excessive loss of body water with an accompanying disruption of metabolic processes. The term dehydration most commonly refers to loss of free water and a reduction in the concentration of salt in tissues. Dehydration is the depletion of water and associated minerals of sodium, potassium, and magnesium, which can lead to fatigue, dizziness, confusion, shock, and other serious health consequences. Dehydration occurs when water and electrolyte loss exceeds water intake, usually due to exercise, heat, or disease. Most people can tolerate a three to four percent decrease in body water without difficulty. Over ten percent can cause physical and mental deterioration and shock accompanied by severe thirst. A decrease of more of than fifteen to twenty-five percent of the body water is invariably fatal.


So how do you compete in heat without becoming dehydrated? First, start your hydration process at least a week before a major competition. Frequent fluid intake leading up to and during the week of competition is important. Think about hydrating each and every cell in your body and you will get the point. As your level of activity increases, add sports drinks to your routine. Before matches drink 50% water / 50% electrolyte replacement. The percentage of sports drink should increase as your activity and or sweating increases. During heavy activity when you are losing lots of fluids, a 2:1 ratio of sports drinks to water works. There are “salt” replacement products that will help as well. Taking one salt replacement tablet per hour during competition will go a long way in preventing dehydration and shock. After your matches, return to a 1:1 ratio.

Prevention Is Critical

Dehydration is much more likely to occur outside in the sun rather than in a climate controlled facility. Temperature, humidity, fluid intake, body mass, age, diet, and level of activity can all contribute to dehydration. Drinking water alone is NOT sufficient to prevent dehydration. In fact, drinking water only can lead to more severe problems because you will dilute essential salts and other minerals. You must replace the minerals sodium, magnesium, and potassium. If you wait until you cramp up or feel faint, it’s too late. Recovery from dehydration may take hours and could cost you a match, not to mention your life. Prevention is critical. Always think “electrolyte replacement.” You need those minerals. So while you are packing your luggage for 3WallBall events, make sure you include electrolytes and mineral replacement products.