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Dehydration and Risk of Orthopedic Injuries

Summer is in full swing and the heat is reaching peak levels in many parts of the country. Along with increased temperatures at this time of year comes the elevated risk of dehydration. This risk becomes an even greater concern as people participate in sports and outdoor activities.

There are a number of risks associated with dehydration. In addition to impacting your heart, endocrine system, digestion and nervous system, dehydration can contribute to orthopedic injuries. As athletes can lose up to 3 quarts of fluid per hour during exercise, staying hydrated can be difficult.

Risks of Orthopedic Injuries

  • Heat cramps can easily develop as your body loses too much water during exercise. These cramps are not only uncomfortable, but can impact your form and endurance. Poor form is a major cause of a variety of orthopedic injuries such as muscle strains and tears or even fractures.
  • Heat exhaustion, caused by a sudden increase in core body temperature, can result in dizziness, fatigue, headaches and even a loss in consciousness. Such symptoms make it very difficult for your body to properly function, increasing the likelihood of injury.

How can you decrease the chances of dehydration this summer? It is a fairly easy task. As long as you are willing to plan ahead and maintain awareness of your body throughout the day, you can stay hydrated and continue enjoying your favorite sports despite the rising temperatures.

Tips for Staying Hydrated

  • Drink plenty of water before participating in exercise. Up to 2 hours before starting your activity, you should be consuming around 20 ounces of water.
  • Drink plenty of water during your workout or outdoor activity. You should consistently drink between 7 and 10 ounces of water every 10-20 minutes while exercising.
  • Drink water after you have stopped exercising. It is important to keep up the fluid intake even after your activity has ended. Drink at least 8 ounces following exercise.
  • Be consistent with hydration throughout the day. Just because your workout or activity has ended, it is still important to keep up the water intake. Your body continues to lose fluids even when at rest.
  • Sports drinks and coconut water can provide an added benefit of replenishing electrolytes lost through sweat. However, the added sugar in these drinks is a negative. Plain water is your best bet.
  • Listen to your body. If you start to experience symptoms of dehydration such as fatigue, dizziness, headaches, nausea, vomiting or muscle cramps, stop exercising immediately. Preventing injury or severe illness is possible if you look out for the warning signs.

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