By Richard Hackworth
Before you say, "yeah, yeah, yeah I know to drink 8 cups a day and live until a hundred. Boring, heard it all before" and close the page… your best bet would be to read on, for what you are about to learn may indeed not only broaden your circle of knowledge, but save your life.
I feel like this is the perfect time to bring the topic of "water" to the attention of my fellow athletes.
We all heard stories of dehydration. Temperature climbs over a hundred. A senior citizen is taken to the emergency room due to a heat stroke. An overeager jogger collapses experiencing muscle spasms while exercising. These stories go on and on.
I have to say that the majority of Martial Arts instructors do not have degrees in Exercise Physiology. What they do have is tradition. We can only hope that the tradition they follow is safe. For instance, when I was a student, my master never allowed his students to drink water. He would turn on the fan, and spray the water on every student, yet would not allow us to actually consume it. It was considered as "lack of self discipline" to drink during a workout session. I guess marathon runners don't have any discipline, for all I know.
The fact is that a properly hydrated body can withstand a workout session 30-45 minutes in length without water. After that it must be hydrated. Yes, we all heard about the Special Operation Forces; they workout the whole day and don't eat or drink. That may be true, but this type of training doesn't last long. Few days, a week at most. However, most of us are not training for special missions (although we sure do wish we were). We want to know how to defend ourselves, or get in better shape. Going for a long time without water, is not a requirement for us.
Let's look at some facts. I am not trying to bring back H.S. biology class. I just want to give you some ideas. An average human body is 80% water. Muscles however are 75% water. The fact is that muscles loose elasticity with diminishing water content. They get tight and if nothing is done, spasms might develop.
Martial Artists happens to be on the higher end of the water loss, as compared to other athletes. Our sport is highly aerobic, thus highly heat producing. When sweat is excreted to cool the body, water is lost. Let's not forget about exercise metabolism. Fat is burned, sugar is burned, and protein is converted. Metabolic products are produced. Some are very toxic. If they are to sit in a body for too long, illness can develop. Our bodies try to prevent it from happening. Toxic metabolites are quickly diluted and excreted. There goes water loss through the kidneys.
Oh, and let's not forget about shouting. Most martial arts styles yell, like there is no tomorrow. There goes water loss, and a lot of it. Lungs facilitate water loss, just as much as the next guy. Who is "kia- ing" now? Don't take my word for it. Remember what happens when you speak a lot? Long speeches make the throat mouth and lips dry. That's what most of us notice. To hydrate those areas, water is drawn out of the muscles. No wonder performance suffers. Remember drinking water is not only necessary to keep the mouth moist, but everything else as well.
It is safe to say that most people are dehydrated but don't even know it. Thirst is not the fist signal of dehydration. It' may not even be the second. So if you do experience thirst, watch out.
Here are some very common symptoms of dehydration.
As a matter of fact, some experts related dehydration to more serious conditions, such as: Ulcers, Obesity, Asthma and Allergies.
If you want to know more, feel free to do some research.
Remember an elder person, will experience these symptoms more than a youngster, even if the level of dehydration is the same.
If after reading this you decide to drink more water. Remember pure water is the best choice. Go for bottled or filtered variety. If you are active 10-12 glasses will serve you right.
Tip: Heard about athletic drinks? To replace expensive and artificial re-hydration beverages, try this:
Into a liter of water add sea salt and raw organic dehydrated cane juice.
These substances are the most natural and pure sources of salt and sugar.
They are not refined and contain many useful vitamins and minerals. The pureness of this substances, minimizes the negative effects of salt and sugar that we are used to hear about. Experiment with taste. Besides replenishing nutrients lost while sweating, this drink helps to prevent water loss, and facilitates water retention in your cells.
About the author: Multi-arts Grand Master Richard Hackworth is the Editor of “World Martial Arts Magazine” at www.worldmartialartsmagazine.com and Co-host of the "World Martial Arts Radio Show” at www.ActionRadio.net . You can subscribe to his free e-newsletter at www.americandragononline.com .