Cramps and their relationship to dehydration
We all know that the more intense, longer and more adverse the environmental conditions are when practicing physical exercise, the water losses mainly due to sweating, will cause dehydration.
These losses are not only made up of water, but also minerals (mainly sodium, followed by potassium, calcium, magnesium and phosphorus), so it will be necessary to replace them to restore the water and electrolyte balance of our body.
He water balance is essential for the proper functioning of our biological systemsYes, any alteration can harm and even pose a risk to the person. It must be taken into account that a dehydration of 2% supposes a decrease in performance (a person weighing 60kg and who loses 2 in competition is already at 3.3% dehydration since most of this loss is considered to be liquid ), reached 6% we could have irreversible consequences.
In the athlete, a correct water intake before, during and after exercise will help him to maintain total body water and avoid the consequences of dehydration: increased heart rate, increased body temperature, tiredness, cramps, vomiting, intense thirst , dry skin, tachycardia, weakness, ...
But perhaps what most worries the athlete of all these consequences is the risk of cramps. Unlike what you might think, the first cause of cramps is dehydration, the second cause is sodium deficiency due to sweating in competition, and then there would be deficits in minerals such as magnesium, phosphorus, calcium or potassium.
So, if we suffer cramps the first thing we have to ensure is a correct supply of liquid to our body (up to 1.1L per hour from the first hour). If we continue suffering them, perhaps it is that we have a sodium deficiency and we must contribute it well in pills or with drink. with a maximum of 1150mg per hour (We must also take into account that provided by the supplements in gels, bars, ... that we use). If we continue with cramps, perhaps we do have a deficit with the other minerals mentioned, although we lose them to a lesser extent.
However, we must follow this order when looking for a solution to cramps because if we start by providing magnesium (now it has become very fashionable) and it turns out that what we have is dehydration, not only will we not fix the problem, but we will fatigue our The organism will have to work harder to eliminate a possible excess in this mineral.
We can also find a isotonic drink that meets all these requirements and provides us with simple sugars and sodium. And, although it is not essential, it can also provide other minerals in a lower proportion (potassium, phosphorus, calcium and magnesium). Then we will be meeting our needs from the beginning.
Finally, a short summary of the benefits of a correct balance of minerals lost by sweating:
1. The sodium decisively intervenes in hydration, and is the one that is lost in greater quantity due to sweating. It is essential in hot and humid environments, so drinking liquids containing this mineral will help us avoid the effects of dehydration and the risk of cramps.
2. The calciumIn addition to its well-known importance for good bone health, it is necessary to generate the electrical impulses that regulate the heart rate and in extreme situations an extra supply of this mineral may be necessary.
3. The magnesium It is vital for a good nervous interaction of muscle cells and fibers and a supplement is recommended after long efforts in extreme environmental conditions. A low level of this mineral can be the cause of muscle aches and cramps.
4. The potassium, together with sodium and in correlation with it, it is necessary to maintain a good hydric balance of the cells, maintaining an adequate osmotic pressure of the cells and therefore of our entire organism.
5. The match It intervenes in all processes of obtaining energy, ATP, and therefore adequate levels are important for good sports performance.
Produced by: Nutriexper, Experts in Sports Nutrition (www.nutriexper.com)