Hydration is a very important part of peak performance. Unfortunately, it is oftentimes overlooked. And while water is good, you may need more.
It is wise to hydrate prior to the day of your tournament or event. At least three days before your scheduled play day, drink at least half your weight in water or other low calorie liquids (preferably without much caffeine or alcohol) per day. You really should stay away from sodas and other sugary drinks, even those marketed as sports drinks. Drinking lots of calories is a good way to unknowingly consume too many, leading to weight gain.
If you have properly hydrated leading up to your event, you'll still want to drink water throughout the day. However, if you're sweating a lot, water alone may not be enough to prevent cramps or replenish lost nutrients. An electrolyte additive is a good idea. There are many options out there, ones that include magnesium and potassium, which are essential minerals the body needs to function properly and avoid cramping.
When thinking about hydrating properly, preplanning is essential! Once your body has become dehydrated, it's very difficult to recover. You do not want to get to this state! I have been there, and it's definitely not a pleasant experience. Side note here- if you're feeling thirsty, you're likely already dehydrated. Thirst is an indicator that your hydration stores are depleted and need to be replenished. Drink up prior to more strenuous activity.
To be clear, there is such a thing as over hydration, and you don't want to go there either. But if you stay within the recommended guidelines for daily fluid intake, you shouldn't have a problem with over hydration.
There is no miracle cure to get rid of cramps once they've set in, so be smart! Think ahead and stay properly hydrated days in advance as well as during your competition. You'll be more apt to perform well and avoid the dreaded muscle cramps associated with intense exercise and dehydration.
Be smart. Plan ahead when it comes to hydrating to perform your best and prevent cramps.
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