Whether you're healing from an injury, surgery or recovering after a workout, maintaining good hydration is critical to your recovery.
It is important to consume an adequate amount of water per day as water is involved in many of our vital bodily processes. The human body is 65% water, so proper balance between water and electrolytes is crucial to how our systems function, including muscles and nerves. Water is essential for the transport of nutrients into our cells, for the regulation of body temperature and pH balance. But, most people do not meet their daily requirement needs.
It is common for people to drink sufficient amounts of water during exercise, but we often forget to drink after exercise, and in the following hours or days. Fluid loss is a normal part of exercise, to help regulate body temperature when we produce sweat. These fluids need to be replenished, and topped up relative to the amount of exercise you do.
Make sure you drink at least 2 litres of water per day, and possibly more, relative to exercise undertaken. This should be spread out throughout the day, not at one time, as our bodies can only absorb a certain amount of water at one time.
Dehydration will lead to increased muscle cramping due to the imbalance of electrolytes and water, which will affect muscle contractions and function. Hence, make sure you are getting your 2L+ in per day and even more so if you're training in the heat!
A side note on alcohol consumption and recovery
Alcohol can have a major effect on how the body functions, and can significantly impair recovery. Alcohol will affect:
- The quality and quantity of your sleep (which decreases protein synthesis and testosterone secretion)
- Fluid loss (diuretic effect with drinks that are >4% alcohol)
- Cognitive performance
- Immune system function, leading to infection/illness
- and reduce bone density
Try to avoid alcohol consumption post training, although if you must - then limit your intake to 2 drinks for males and 1 drink for females to make sure your recovery is not severely impacted.