As the seasons change and summer approaches with full force, practices are getting hotter and dehydration cases are increasing. The body can lose up to 8 cups of water in the first hour of lacrosse practice, especially on a hot field in the middle of the summer. Staying hydrated is important for both performance and safety, and gives your body the ability to recover from dehydration after you stop practice.
Causes of Dehydration
Sweat and Humidity
Lacrosse is extremely popular in the Northeast region of the United States. Unfortunately, this area is an especially humid region of the country. Humidity is not a lacrosse player’s friend – humidity prevents sweat from evaporating off the skin, thus increasing the risk of dehydration.
Some medications can interfere with the body’s cooling process. Rice University warns that antihistamines and some types of blood pressure medications decrease perspiration, while caffeine and alcohol are diuretics that cause the body to lose water. Athletes on prescription drugs should discuss the potential causes of dehydration with the doctor who prescribed the medications.
Your choice of clothing influences the body’s cooling efficiency. Light-colored clothing reflects light, whereas dark clothing absorbs it. Loose, lightweight clothing allows air to flow across the skin to promote evaporation. Do not change into dry clothing or fresh lacrosse gear midway through practice because dry clothing slows evaporation rates while wet clothing continues the cooling action. If your practice starts in the morning and finishes in the heat of the afternoon, then you should wear removable layers. Take your lacrosse practice gear off when you are not playing during practice sessions. Helmets, gloves, and pads are hot and prohibit evaporation.
Measuring & Preventing Dehydration
Scientists use body weight to determine how much fluid a person has lost in a given amount of time. Water weighs about 2.2 pounds per liter, or 1 gram per milliliter. This translates to roughly 2 cups of water for every pound of body weight; if you are four pounds lighter after lacrosse practice, you have sweated out about eight cups of water.
Staying hydrated during practice begins long before players hit the field. Players should drink large amounts of fluids every day during the lacrosse season, from April through August. Drink fluids even in the absence of thirst because someone can suffer dehydration without ever feeling thirsty. Sip fluids before, during, and after practice – sipping is superior to guzzling. Drink 14 to 21 ounces of liquids two to three hours before exercise and 6 to 12 ounces every 15 or 20 minutes during practice, especially on hot or humid days. On especially hot days, or days where you have exerted yourself more than usual, weighing yourself after practice and drinking 24 ounces of fluid for every pound of body weight lost is suggested.
In a report published in the Annals of the Academy of Medicine, Singapore, researchers found that Gatorade hydrated subjects slightly better than water, but neither Gatorade nor water provided adequate hydration when participants drank as much as they wanted during one hour of intense exercise.
Staying hydrated during practice keeps you at the top of your lacrosse game. Gain the advantage before even stepping onto the field and awe your opponents with your cool head and properly sweaty body.