Dehydration could hurt muscle performance

August 30, 2012

Topic: Injury prevention

Proper hydration levels will support muscle performance.

Most fitness enthusiasts know that proper hydration will keep the body cool during physical activity. However, some people are confused about whether fluid intake can weaken certain muscle groups, like the abdominals, as reported by the Jamaica Gleaner in Wisconsin.

Not only is this a myth, but proper hydration is important for injury prevention for the muscles.

"Dehydration can cause weakness and loss of muscle control," exercise physiologist Kenneth Gardner wrote in a health column for the newspaper. "By the time your sense of thirst is activated, you would have already lost some body weight, experienced a decrease in your blood volume and lost some muscle strength as well as some of your aerobic capabilities."

This decrease in muscle performance is due in part to the sweating away of electrolytes, which are important for nerve stimulation of the muscles.

To treat dehydration, the National Institutes of Health recommends that individuals drink small amounts of fluid often instead of large volumes all at once. The latter action may induce vomiting and further loss of liquid.

Gardner recommended that athletes drink before, during and after a workout. However, too much water may decrease the amount of salt in the blood, leading to other problems, such as dizziness and confusion.

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