We generally are aware of the guidelines of hydration.What if those rules are incorrect? A new study just released thinks that some of these rules could put you at risk of over-hydration.
Hyponatremia is what happens when the blood becomes very diluted,” says Dr. James Winger, a sports medicine doctor in Chicago. “In the setting of athletics, people take in more fluid than the body can get rid of, usually in the name of preserving hydration.
By drinking too much water, the salt in your body gets diluted, leading to swelling in the cells of the body.
Hyponatremia is more likely in the endurance athlete population. According to Dr Winger, a study looking at ultra-marathoners revealed that almost half of the finishers showed signs of hyponatremia. A further study of Boston Marathoners revealed that thirteen percent had hyponatremia by the time they finished.
Hyponatremia can be tough to diagnose.
Symptoms can be very vague and not unlike symptoms one might experience after running a race or performing any athletic event [including] fatigue, even confusion or exhaustion,
But Dr Winger indicates that it’s completely preventable, as long as you don’t follow some well known myths about hydration.
Old School Wives Tales About Hydration
Myth #1: When you feel thirsty, you’re already dehydrated.
Thirst is a positive thing. In fact, the study, published in the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine, indicates athletes only drink when thirsty.
When you feel thirsty, your body has started its water saving techniques. “People think it’s too late; you’re already dehydrated” Winger says, stating that becoming dehydrated is tougher than most people think. Drinking water only when you feel the need, as opposed to forcing yourself to drink at every water station, will keep you adequately hydrated.
Myth #2: Running performance will drop if you’re not completely hydrated.
It’s natural to get somewhat dehydrated during events.
There’s mounting evidence that mild to moderate dehydration has no effect on performance in many sporting endeavors,” Winger notes. “We need to look at dehydration as a natural part of exercise, not necessarily something to prevent.
Most runners can lose up to 3 percent of their bodyweight via dehydration before it affects performance, Winger says. Having a drink when you feel the need will prevent you from the danger zone.
Myth #3: Drink until your urine is clear colored.
In general, urine color is a pretty poor marker of specific or exact urine concentration,” Winger says. “If you’re trying to dilute your urine, you’re probably putting yourself into an overhydrated state.
Myth #4: Cramps are an indicator of dehydration.
If you experience muscle cramps you may think you need water to ease the issue. Recent research suggests muscle cramps don’t have much to do with hydration whatsoever.
What’s been demonstrated is that it has a lot more to do with the fatigued state of the muscle, and muscles that are more fatigued are more likely to cramp,” Winger says. “Fatigued states do occur when you’re dehydrated as well, so there’s a definite overlap that leads down this path. Our advice has been to drink when you’re thirsty — that can be a plan, and it’s the easiest plan there could be,” he says. “When you’re done feeling thirsty, stop drinking. It sounds silly, but that’s the simplicity of it and the beauty behind it. We don’t need any sorts of numbers and measurements and weights to tell us how to stay healthy during exercise.