Holtby Incident Shows Importance of Hydration
On Sunday, Washington Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby had to leave the game against the New York Rangers due to dehydration. As Captials’ head coach Barry Trotz told the Washington Post, “Playing a little bit yesterday, flying and all of those things, I don’t think there’s anything other than that. He just said he was having a little trouble getting focused. He didn’t get hit or anything, so we just think it’s a little dehydration.”
Even for elite athletes at the top of their game, maintaining fluid balance is critical to both performance and health. Symptoms of dehydration include “thirst, irritability and general discomfort followed by headache, weakness, dizziness, cramps, chills, heartburn, vomiting, nausea, head or neck heat sensations and decreased performance.” If you experience these symptoms consult your athletic trainer. Don’t wait until you feel thirsty to hydrate as thirst is a delayed response to dehydration.
InGoal’s David Hutchison talked about the importance of fluid loss for goalies in 2009. Even a small amount of fluid loss can impair performance and during practices goalies can lose about 2.9 liters per hour or more. It is best to rehydrate with a sports drink that contains sodium to help you hold onto that fluid; plain water is not as good at keeping you hydrated during practices and games.
As Hutchison wrote:
- The bottom line is that it is unsure how much this matters for non-elite players. The only way to be sure is to take your bodyweight before and after a game or practice – right before oldtimers, not after that extra hour in the dressing room or local watering hole!
- If you are losing more than 1% of your bodyweight you have a potential problem.
- Sports drinks have little value before a game, but are exactly what you need during a game – the extra sodium versions.
- You need a well balanced meal right after the game – if it will be delayed there are many recovery shake options that are essentially chocolate milk!