Most of us realize the importance of hydration while exercising; drinking water before, during, and after workouts regulates your body temperature, delivers nutrients and oxygen to your cells, and removes waste. But did you know that proper hydration is also an essential part of the recovery process if you have an injury?
How Water Helps with Recovery
1. Muscular Repair
Exercise causes muscles to become stronger by breaking them down, and then rebuilding them using muscle protein synthesis. However, this process requires the muscles to be hydrated. If you are dehydrated following an injury, your recovery process slows immensely and halts the protein synthesis that rebuilds muscles.
The body transforms carbohydrates into a form of sugar called glucose that is used for energy. The glucose, in turn, is converted into Glycogen, a form of sugar that is easily stored in our muscles and liver, to provide instant energy. Glycogen is an essential nutrient for muscle recovery, which is why it’s important to eat a nutritionally balanced meal as soon after exercise as possible.
Water plays a key role in the digestion process. Saliva is crucial to digest and absorb the nutrients you eat. It is responsible for the beginning stages breaking down food. Rehydrating properly after an injury aids in the efficiency of the digestive process, which also enhances your recovery.
3. Reduced Fatigue
One of the most common signs of dehydration is fatigue. When you are dehydrated, your blood volume is decreased, which means that the heart has to work harder to pump the blood to all of the parts of your body that need its vital oxygen and nutrients. This fatigue, not only hinders injury recovery, but reduces motivation.
4. Heart Rate Recovery
A 2012 study of the role of hydration in health and exercise found that water had a significant impact on recovery. In the experiment, individuals did a 90 minute run on a treadmill. One group drank water during and after the workout, while the other group drank nothing at all. The experiment found that the individuals who drank water showed significantly faster heart rate recovery following the workout, which indicates that their bodies recovered more quickly from the stress of exercise.
Common Hydration Questions
How much water should I drink during my rehabilitation process?
It is recommended you consume 8- eight-ounce glasses of water per day. That is equivalent to about half a gallon per day.
What are the signs of dehydration?
· Increased thirst
· Dry mouth
· Decreased urination
· Food cravings
· Bad breath
· Dry skin
How can I increase my water intake?
· Carry a water bottle with you
· Set a timer to drink water every few hours
· Add flavor to your water
· Consume more water rich foods
Rehydration after exercise clearly has a large impact on recovery. If you have more questions about staying hydrated while healing from an injury, please contact us today!