Detroit Free Press Article, August 8, 2006
Grosse Pointe Karate Club

Home Photos Articles Links Classes Student Info KIAI

The following article appeared in the August 8, 2006 edition of the Detroit Free Press. Reprint permission pending. Copyright © 2006, Detroit Free Press.

Detroit Free Press Health: HYDRATION GUIDE: Drink up

As school sports practices get under way, here’s what to drink, when to drink it and how to tell if you’re in danger

August 8, 2006

The obsession that is prep sports cranks up this week with some teams officially starting practice for the fall season.

But lest the word "fall" confuse any, let's be clear. It's still summer, which means it's hot.

And that means athletes need to take extra precautions to avoid heat-related illnesses.

Between 1995 and 2005, 20 high school football players died from heat stroke in the United States, according to the National Federation of High School Associations.

The best way to avoid a meltdown is to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids before, during and after exercise.

But how do you tell if you're drinking enough? What should you drink? What are the signs of a heat-related illness?

We asked local experts. Here's what they had to say.

Don't wait for thirst

Thirst isn't a good gauge of whether you're dehydrated.

It's better to drink fluids before, during and after activity, said John Brady, a certified athletic trainer with the Center for Athletic Medicine at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit.

Brady recommends that athletes drink between 16 and 20 ounces a few hours before they head to practices or games and another 8-12 ounces right before the event.

During practice or competition, it's best to drink something every 15-20 minutes, Brady said.

After the workout, drink up to the point that your urine is clear, or, if you lost weight during the workout, drink about 20 ounces for each pound lost.

How to tell if you're hydrated

Check the color of your urine, says Jeanne Stevenson, a sports nutritionist and registered dietitian who works with athletic groups like the Detroit Figure Skating Club.

Urine should be clear or the color of lemonade, not apple juice, Stevenson said.

Signs of dehydration include dizziness, loss of coordination, headaches and poor performance.

"Those would be the early cues that maybe the athlete should be taking a break in the shade, getting a drink," she said.

What's better -- water or sports drinks?

Sure, it's not the most glamorous, but plain water is all anyone really needs to keep hydrated, says John Brady, a certified athletic trainer, especially if you're eating a well-balanced diet.

Sports drinks like Gatorade or PowerAde can be appealing if you don't like the taste (or lack thereof) of water, as long as the drink doesn't contain too many carbohydrates. A sports drink should have about 6% carbohydrates.

"Any more than that can irritate the stomach and doesn't allow gastric emptying," Brady says. "The body has to put more energy into digesting carbohydrates rather than just getting it into the system."

If using a combination of water and sports drinks, Brady recommends drinking water during practice or games and sports drinks before and after.

Heat-related illnesses

Heat cramps: Symptoms include painful muscle spasms, usually in the abdomen or the legs, caused by an imbalance of minerals. You might feel lightheaded and weak.

What to do: Find a cool place to rest and drink a sports drink that has electrolytes.

Heat syncope: A fancy word for passing out. You either pass out or feel like you're going to, but regain consciousness without any other symptoms.

What to do: Take a break, get something to drink, sit in the shade and use a cool compress.

Heat exhaustion: A more serious form of heat illness. You might have the following symptoms: frontal headache, changes in mental function, dizziness and loss of balance, nausea or vomiting, unsteadiness and tremors, muscle cramps, hyperventilation or losing consciousness.

What to do: Others should help you lie down in a cool area with feet slightly elevated, apply wet towels at room temperature to your body and add a teaspoon of salt per quart to a cool fluid and have you drink.

Heat stroke: The most severe form of heat-related illness, this can cause permanent damage or death if left untreated.

The symptoms are similar to heat exhaustion, but also look for hyperthermia, where the core body temperature can be higher than 105.8 degrees. This can lead to convulsions, heart attack, coma, stroke, liver and kidney damage or blood clots in the lungs.

What to do: Others should call for medical help, then remove your clothes and wrap you in wet sheets. Your legs should be elevated 8-12 inches.

What to avoid:

  • Carbonated drinks like pop and juices that contain a lot of sugar or are too concentrated slow down the hydration process, says sports nutritionist Jeanne Stevenson.
  • Salt tablets aren't a good idea. If you haven't been especially active during the summer, one way to help your body get used to hard workouts in hot weather is to put a little extra salt in your food for the first week of practice. After that, your body shouldn't need it as much, says certified athletic trainer John Brady.

    But don't go overboard. Taking salt tablets is not a good idea because too much in your body can mess with sweat mechanisms.

  • Drinks with stimulants like caffeine and a lot of sugar -- even if they are marketed as sports performance drinks -- aren't a good idea because they speed up heat buildup in your body. For some people, they can cause upset stomachs. Anyone taking nutrition supplements, like Creatine or whey protein, needs to be extra careful about hydrating, says Brady. They can contain extra salt.

Contact CECILIA OLECK at 313-223-4286 or

Copyright © 2006 Detroit Free Press

Home | Photos | Articles | Links | Classes | Student Info | KIAI
Copyright and Contact Information | Mobile |

Soke Shimabuku Grand Master Mitchum Grand Master Nagle Master Chapman Master Noxon Grand Master Adams Grand Master Schaefer