HYDRATION – Optimising Injury Healing

Keep yourself hydrated for optimal recovery from your injury.

We are essentially 60-70% water and this water is vital for everything from boosting your brain power; improving your skin; to assisting in your body’s defence when injured.

When dealing with an injury, hydration is an essential part of the healing process. In a dehydrated state, our body will pull water from our skin and muscles to protect our organs.

Without proper hydration, your skin and muscles will not receive the proper oxygen and nutrients it needs in order to heal.  There are three stages of tissue repair; inflammation, proliferation and remodelling following injury. In each stage, water is a primary catalyst to help move from one stage to the next. Water is used as a vessel to supply the required chemicals, nutrients and oxygen required for healing.

Dehydration can lead to:

Cramps – your body needs both water and electrolytes (sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium, and chloride) to support normal muscle contractions. When you sweat heavily during workouts, you lose both, which causes cramps.

Cartilage wear – water and electrolytes are essential in delivering nutrients that help cartilage repair itself when it’s injured. If you stop drinking water, the wear and tear on your cartilage (especially your knees) outpaces the body’s ability to generate new cells. Injuries like cartilage tears and meniscus tears can result.

Friction in the joints – cartilage is made of collagen, proteins, cells, synovial fluid, and water — up to 80% water. This water and synovial fluid cushions your bones when they bear weight or pressure. The meniscus, for example, pads your knee joint and allows the leg bones to move smoothly past one another without grinding. Dehydration can deprive your cartilage of the water it needs to maintain this cushion, which can lead to achy or “creaking” joints and osteoarthritis (OA).

We all need to stay hydrated to stay healthy. But if you’re active or athletic, hydration is even more important because you’re losing water to sweat. If you hope to avoid injury, replacing water and electrolytes needs to be a pillar of your sports training routine.

WATER AND EXERCISE

If you exercise vigorously you should drink a glass of water before starting, and then have half a glass every 15 minutes. This will prevent dehydration and improve performance.

HYDRATING DRINKS

The best drink for avoiding dehydration is water. Water is a sugar-free, calorie-free nutrient and is optimal for good health. If you don’t like the taste of tap or bottled water, you can make your own “spa water” at home by adding lemon, cucumber, or mint for flavour. You can also flavour water with slices of fresh fruit like apples, orange, or grapefruit.