The Effects of Dehydration

This is a note from one of our instructors, Sean Dickson.  He makes some very good points as to how Hydration/Dehydration effects our overall physical performance.  We require a minimum of 100 oz. of water per day in our courses because of the importance of hydration.  Shooting is physical, all disciplines.  Our overall physical preparedness will dictate our performance on the range and in the real world.

Even Mild Dehydration Can Affect Performance

Yesterday we had everyone write in and tell us how much water they took in during that 24 hour period. I was pleasantly surprised to see so many of you going for goals of high fluid ounce intake and also saying that you tried to do so on a daily basis. I mentioned that I was ambushed by meetings all day and got separated from my Nalgene bottle and that I could already feel the effects when I got home from work.

I wanted to use that and an experience from today to touch a little more on the importance of hydration and the consequences of neglecting it as I unfortunately did yesterday. Proper hydration is key to the functioning of our entire body system. It affects our blood pressure, thermo-regulation, joint spaces and even small things like our moods and focus. It is said that sitting 1 liter low of normal fluid levels can be looked at as dehydration. There are more complex ways of looking at it in the form of total body weight and loss but I like to save that for endurance events that need nerdy science to work out. Here we are going to talk about it in a simple everyday spectrum.

Even the mildest amounts of dehydration can affect your performance in the gym or during a workout. now I understand that not every day and every workout can be perfect and of peak quality, but lets face it, I go to the gym 90% of the time with the intention of a personal record, why else would I drive all the way there? Last night I didn’t stay diligent on re-hydrating. Throughout the day today I drank properly but was still living in a deficit from the day previous. As I began my warm-up and the opening sets of an Olympic lift routine, I realized I was a little hotter than normal and was sweating sooner and breathing a little deeper to quickly. Also as I would drive down low and explode up with the bar, complete the lift or reps and drop the weights I would have that dizzy head rush feeling. What was this? It was dehydration affecting my performance.

In a little more depth it was a decreased blood volume/pressure. My blood wasn’t “full” and so the symptoms reflected. My hypothalamus was registering that the blood wasn’t efficiently circulating to my skin and therefore wasn’t cooling me so it released more sweat (of which I didn’t have enough) and in consequence my core temperature rose. My lower blood volume also resulted in less O2 circulating to all of my organ systems and muscle tissues causing me to not breath off and flush the lactic acid/ free radicals that are produced through metabolism and stress placed on tissue (weight lifting), therefore I became winded early and needed deeper breaths. The dizzy feeling was simply an inability to compensate for the explosive increase in pressure that was created by the lift followed by a massive decrease when the lift was over, lungs breathed out and load dropped.

In summary (after getting a little nerdy, but I am an SF Medic) a minor slip up in hydration the day previous cause my workout to be sub par and ultimately end early for safety reasons.

As my Drill Sergeant used to say incessantly “Drink Water!!”


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