As the Summer increase to heat up this year I have had an increasing number of calls about concerns about the heat. This is a concern of ours at Kids First Gymnastics but I also wanted to pass along this information that can be used for not only gymnastics practices but any sports practice. During the summer, proper hydration is critical to keep athletes from becoming dehydrated. There are things that can be done to help prevent dehydration, heat exhaustion and other heat illnesses.

Drinking Before and After Practice

Drinking fluids before and after practice is MORE important than drinking fluids during practice. It is impossible to catch up if you start dehydrated. Especially if you are out at the pool, riding bikes, or sitting in air conditioning. Don’t forget that air conditioning works by taking moisture out of the air, making you dehydrated. Tips to staying hydrated:

  • Drinking 8-12oz of a cold liquid 1-2 hours before practice
  • If time doesn’t allow or you forget, 8oz of a cold liquid 15-30 minutes before practice

Drink Every 15-20 minutes During Practice

Coaches can’t control before and after practice but they can make the athletes drink on schedule, regardless if they are thirsty.

After practice this includes:

  • Drinking 24oz of a sports drink

Keeping Cool During Practice

  • The easiest and thing is to have a cooling towel available to put around your neck as needed.
  • Getting your head wet. This will help get rid of a lot of heat quickly, but also can be messy.
  • Apply ice packs to your arm pits. This is something I would do as a nurse to cool patients down quickly. Not always comfortable but it does work!

Signs and Symptoms of Dehydration

It is also important to know the signs and symptoms of dehydration so you can act accordingly. According to Mayo Clinic:

Mild to moderate dehydration is likely to cause:

  • Dry, sticky mouth
  • Sleepiness or tiredness — children are likely to be less active than usual
  • Thirst
  • Decreased urine output — no wet diapers for three hours for infants and eight hours or more without urination for older children and teens
  • Few or no tears when crying
  • Dry skin
  • Headache
  • Constipation
  • Dizziness or light headedness

Severe dehydration, a medical emergency, can cause:

  • Extreme thirst
  • Extreme fussiness or sleepiness in infants and children; irritability and confusion in adults
  • Very dry mouth, skin and mucous membranes
  • Lack of sweating
  • Little or no urination — any urine that is produced will be dark yellow or amber
  • Sunken eyes
  • Shriveled and dry skin that lacks elasticity and doesn’t “bounce back” when pinched into a fold
  • In infants, sunken fontanels — the soft spots on the top of a baby’s head
  • Low blood pressure
  • Rapid heartbeat and/or Breathing
  • No tears when crying
  • Fever
  • In the most serious cases, delirium or unconsciousness