Preparing for Big Meets, HYDRATION

Being dehydrated decreases your ability to produce power as a gymnast.

But even worse, it can effect your vision, decision making, and control of your muscles.

Gymnasts are at risk when they are even slightly dehydrated. 2% body mass loss due to dehydration can have the above effects, and as a result can have an increased chance of injury for young gymnasts.

What are some of the most common symptoms we see in dehydrated gymnasts?

  • Dry lips, or a gymnast that is licking her lips
  • Fatigue, or feeling tired in the gym
  • Feeling lethargic
  • Dry skin
  • Headache
  • Stomach Ache
  • Blurred vision
  • Dark colored urine, or even worse, not having to urinate

Preparing for big meets starts now, because it takes a while for the body to adapt to hydration. And YES, you will have to pee often, but your body will adapt to this new found hydration and you’ll see amazing results.

An Easy to Follow Hydration Plan

We like to give gymnasts easy cues they can follow.  There are exact measurements for intake based on bodyweight, but we want to keep this real life.

We usually measure hydration intake in ounces, but who in the world knows what 1 ounce is equal to?

We simplify it: 1 ounce = 1 gulp (not sip)

So here’s our easy 3 step plan:

  1. 4-5 ounces (gulps) of water intake every hour before practice.
  2. 12-16 ounces (gulps) of liquid intake*** every hour during practice (see below for more information on what to drink during practice)
  3. 4-5 ounces (gulps) of water every hour after practice

A water bottle should be your gymnast’s best friend. Find one that you love! (I use this water bottle and love it) If they leave home or go to practice without it, they should feel like they’re missing something. They should create a habit of carrying their bottle and drinking from it.

Now, with this increase of water, it becomes necessary to eat properly. One of the worst things you can do is increase water production and not be taking in enough solids. This can lead to a dangerous situation.

So, as we discussed last time, we created an amazing program to help you navigate the world of nutrition. It’s a “done for you” nutrition program called Stay Fueled. You can find more information by clicking here.

Fluid Intake During Practice

Gymnasts use for energy what’s readily available to them in their muscles and blood stream. They do not mobilize stored energy to be used during practice.

Studies suggest that when you switch from plain water to a carbohydrate drink, you can increase your ability to produce power by 33% compared to your peers. WOW! That’s a lot of extra power.

Just imagine if you had the ability to do 33% more tasks at work, you had 33% more energy to get things done at home, or your gymnast just listened to you 33% more of the time!

33% is game changing!

So what is a carbohydrate drink? All the studies done were of a 6% carbohydrate drink. Commercially we have Gatorade, Powerade, and Vitamin Water, but it has to be the ones with carbohydrates. Sugar Free and Zero Calorie don’t cut it.

You can also do an all-natural and even organic option. Combine ½ water and ½ favorite juice with a pinch of salt. To make in large quantity, you’d combine 1 gallon of water, 1 gallon of your favorite fruit juice, and a teaspoon of salt.

Remember, the amount of carbohydrate drink an athlete can handle will differ between individuals. You’ll need to experiment with this concept and see what your gymnast can handle.

Some of our gymnasts will do plain water the first hour, carb drink second, water third, and carb drink during the last hour when they need the energy the most. This might be a great recipe for your athlete.

If your athlete is getting a tummy ache from the carbohydrate drink, water the drink down. Athletes become very sensitive to sugar during workouts and competition.

Hydration Is A Habit That Will Last A Lifetime

Just like anything in sports, you have to own your hydration plan. Get started today, so you’re ready to go when it’s “Game Time!” Big meets are where legends are made. Don’t let something simple like hydration get in your way!

If you have any questions or comments, make sure to leave them below. Thanks for taking the time to find out more about protecting gymnasts from injury and helping them get everything they can from their time in the gym!.

Dr. Joshua Eldridge

About Dr. Joshua Eldridge

Dr. Joshua Eldridge has specialized in protecting gymnasts from injury. He is the inventor of The X Brace, and has developed a treatment protocol for Sever's disease and heel pain that has helped thousands of gymnasts throughout the world. Dr. Eldridge brings practical, easy injury care and prevention that can be done at home.