Douglas Andersen, DC, DACBSP, CCN
Volume 9, number 9,
4/26/91, page 26
Although it is one of my older articles, the information is still fairly
As another summer approaches, it is important to remind your patient how
critical water is. This month we will discuss some interesting water facts
and heat-related conditions.
Water is life. It is the main ingredient in almost every tissue in the
body (with the exception of bone, teeth and nails). The amount of body
water ranges from 50 percent of body weight in older and obese individuals
to over 80 percent of body weight in children and athletes. Muscles are
over 70 percent water. Red blood cells are around 60 percent water. Over
90 percent of blood plasma is water.
Water is the main
transport medium in delivering nutrients to the cells as well as removing
cellular waste products. It is essential for anabolic reactions in all
types of athletes participating in all types of sports, from bodybuilders
and football players to marathon runners and triathletes. Water is also
mandatory for proper joint lubrication, both for injury recovery and prevention.
Water is the body's
most important nutrient for homeostatic temperature control. It takes
a great amount of heat increase or heat loss to alter water's temperature.
This is because water compared to other substances releases and absorbs
heat very slowly. Thus, the athlete who is adequately hydrated will perform
effectively longer in both hot and cold environments.
in a hot environment can lose 22 ounces of water through respiration and
perspiration every 20 minutes. Conversely, the body is only able to absorb
6 ounces every 20 minutes, which results in a 16 ounce loss every 20 minutes.
A 3 percent loss of body weight (4.5 pounds in a 150 pound athlete) can
result in performance losses from 20-30 percent. To combat this, pre-event
hydration is essential.
Athletes should consume 50 to 100 ounces of fluid above and beyond their
normal intake the day before the event.
The athlete should
consume 20 to 32 ounces of water 2 hours prior to the event.
Instruct your athlete
to eliminate the bladder 15 minutes prior to the event.
Drink six to eight
ounces of water five minutes before the event.
If possible, drink
cold water during the event (it is absorbed faster and cools the body
better than warm water).
Note: Numbers 1 and 2 above will vary depending on the size of
the athlete, the length and weather conditions of the event, and the availability
of fluids during the event. For sports played outdoors under the hot summer
sun, the chances of hyperhydration are very slim.
Finally, we will review the three major heat and hydration-related problems
athletes face when competing in warm environments.
Athletes who sweat profusely lose water and NaCl from the body. The loss
of sodium causes involuntary hypertonicities of the muscles. Heat cramps
are more common in hot environments and in cases where fluid replacement
is inadequate. The body temperature is normal. Treatment consists of hydration
with sodium-containing beverages. Prevention focuses on adequate pre-event
Athletes who sweat profusely and/or participate in hot conditions they
are not accustomed to can be at risk for heat exhaustion. The body attempts
to cool itself by moving blood from the interior to the skin. This results
in cardiac and central nervous system blood shortages. Body temperature
is normal. The skin is clammy, and the athlete feels weak, dizzy, and
faint. Headaches and rapid, shallow breathing may also be present. The
patient should be treated for shock and given cool fluids that contain
electrolytes and small amounts of simple carbohydrates, such as glucose,
fructose, or sucrose. Prevention, again, is accomplished by insuring that
the athlete has hydrated sufficiently before the event occurs, and is
able to practice fluid replacement during the event.
Heat stroke occurs with strenuous activity in hot, humid conditions. High
temperature with high humidity makes it difficult for the body to lose
heat by evaporation. This leads to a decreased blood flow to the skin,
and a loss of the ability to perspire. The internal body temperature soars.
The skin is hot and dry and the victim may lose consciousness. Body temperature
must be reduced as soon as possible with cool water and cold compresses.
This is a medical emergency. Failure to adequately cool the athlete may
result in permanent nervous system damage and death.
As sports chiropractors, one of our responsibilities is to pay close attention
to the athletes while they're participating in their various sports. Whenever
you notice an athlete who is performing hard and not sweating, in a climate
where perspiration is expected and is occurring in other participants,
that athlete should be monitored, and the athlete should be asked questions
concerning the amount of fluid he has consumed over the past few hours.
Participants who fall into the category of inadequate fluid intake with
decreased or a lack of perspiration, coupled by a high temperature, should
be removed from activity before a crisis occurs.
Part II, will focus on fluid replacement drinks, such as glucose,
complex carbohydrates and electrolyte-replacement formulas.
For references pertaining
to this article please contact:
E. Imperial Hwy.
Brea, CA. 92821
2004, G. Douglas Andersen, DC, DACBSP, CCN, 916 E. Imperial Hwy, Brea,
CA 92821, (714) 990-0824