Pickleball is a fast-growing sport and a lot of fun. I stepped out on the court three years ago and never looked back. I have learned a lot of things during this time. This includes how to play safely and effectively for long matches, round robins, and rec play, especially during the summer months.
In one word – Hydration!! We are heading into summer, and it is going to be essential that we hydrate properly. I play pickleball in the southern climate of South Carolina, and it gets hot and humid. I am a 50+ player and notice that I have to watch my this very closely. It can be dangerous not to hydrate correctly.
We’ve all seen it. Someone who gets light-headed, dizzy, and struggling. Seeing these players have to sit down, rest, and get some electrolytes so their bodies can recover is a little unnerving.
Many times it’s a function of hydrating too late or not enough. I carry hydration products with me in my bag all the time. A Harvard study states, “A sports drink may be used by people engaging in an exercise of vigorous intensity for more than one hour, especially if sweating heavily.”
Usually, I have 2-3 different kinds with me, so I am covered depending on the play (more aggressive), the length of time I’ll be on the court, and the weather (cloudy or full sun).
This post will cover Hydration and review the best hydration products. I use all of these.
What Is Heat Illness?
Heat illness is a variety of disorders caused by increased body temperature. It can be caused by either environmental conditions (such as weather) or by exertion. It includes minor conditions such as heat cramps, heat syncope, and heat exhaustion, as well as the more severe condition known as heat stroke.
- Heat cramps are muscle spasms that are caused by dehydration and electrolyte imbalance. They are often painful and can occur in any muscle group, but they are most common in the legs, arms, and abdomen.
- Heat exhaustion is a more serious condition caused by dehydration and electrolyte imbalance. Symptoms include profuse sweating, pale skin, headache, dizziness, nausea, and vomiting.
- Heat stroke is a severe form of heat illness. It is caused by a failure of the body’s cooling system. Heat stroke symptoms include a body temperature above 103 degrees Fahrenheit, hot, red, dry skin, rapid breathing, confusion, and seizures. This is considered a medical emergency; you should seek medical attention immediately.
Is Heat Illness A Big Issue?
The simple answer is yes. See the following statistics from the CDC.
It is important to take seriously the conditions you are playing in so you can take the necessary precautions. Hydration and Electrolytes play a vital role in preventing heat illness.
What Is Hydration?
Simply put, Hydration is the process of maintaining an adequate level of water to prevent dehydration. Dehydration can occur when an athlete loses more fluids than they take in, leading to serious negative consequences, including reduced performance, increased risk of injury, and heat illness.
What Are Electrolytes And Why Do I Need them?
Electrolytes are minerals we have heard about necessary for optimal athletic performance. They help to regulate muscle contractions, nerve impulses, and fluid balance. We lose electrolytes through sweat, so it is vital to replace them through exercise.
There are many different ways to get electrolytes, including:
- Drinking fluids: Hydration drinks, coconut water, and water are all good sources of electrolytes.
- Eating foods: Certain fruits and vegetables are good sources of electrolytes.
- Electrolyte supplements: Electrolyte supplements can be taken in pill or powder form.
The amount of electrolytes you need will vary based on your sport, environmental conditions, and your sweat rate. However, you should drink about 1-2 cups of fluids every 30 minutes of exercise.
How Do I Know If I Need Electrolytes?
Here are some signs and symptoms that you may have an electrolyte imbalance:
- Dehydration: Symptoms of dehydration include fatigue, dizziness, muscle cramps, and headaches.
- Muscle cramps: Muscle cramps are sudden, involuntary contractions of a muscle. They can be painful and occur in any muscle but are most common in the legs and arms.
- Confusion: Confusion can be a sign of a serious electrolyte imbalance. It is important to seek medical attention if you experience confusion.
- Seizures: Seizures are a serious medical emergency. They can be a sign of a severe electrolyte imbalance. If you experience a seizure, call 911 or your local emergency number immediately.
As you can see, not staying hydrated with the proper amount of electrolytes can be serious. But the good news is, it is treatable.
What Are The Key Electrolytes To Look For In Hydration Products
|Electrolyte||Benefit in Sports Recovery|
|Sodium||Helps to regulate blood pressure and fluid balance, which can help to prevent muscle cramps and improve athletic performance.|
|Potassium||Helps to regulate muscle contractions and nerve impulses, which can help to improve athletic performance and reduce the risk of muscle cramps.|
|Magnesium||Helps to relax muscles and reduce inflammation, which can help to speed up recovery from exercise.|
|Calcium||Helps to build strong bones and muscles, which can help to prevent injuries and improve athletic performance.|
Sodium and Potassium are the most critical for sports play and recovery. Magnesium and calcium are two other electrolytes that have added benefits.
1. Liquid IV: Best For Moderate Play
Hydrate 2x faster than water alone with Hydration Multiplier, a great-tasting electrolyte drink powder with five essential vitamins and 3x the electrolytes of traditional sports drinks.
Non-GMO and made with premium ingredients – Hydration Multiplier Electrolyte Powder Drink Mix is made with natural flavors and has no artificial colors or sweeteners. Every serving contains 5 essential vitamins: vitamins B3, B5, B6, B12, and vitamin C. It’s also gluten-free, soy-free, and dairy-free.
2. DripDrop: Best for Hard Play
DripDrop’s formula received a U.S. Patent, and Dr. Dolhun was awarded the 2017 Mayo Clinic Alumni Association Humanitarian Award.
DripDrop’s patented formula uses ORS science to activate a hydration shortcut known as the sodium-glucose cotransport system. Accelerating fluid absorption into the bloodstream 2-3x so you can feel better faster.
3. Nuun (tablets): Best Low Sugar Moderate Play
Offering hydration, immunity, and general wellness electrolyte tablets across a three-tiered hydration scale, Nuun is one of the most accommodating electrolyte brands we know of. Nuun is keto-friendly
4. Key Nutrients: Best Zero Sugar For Moderate & Hard Play
Key Nutrient Hydration Packets are Keto friendly with zero sugar and contain 6 key electrolytes, including magnesium, potassium sorbate, and calcium. These electrolyte powder packets also contain 12 vitamins. The most vitamins of the five reviewed.
|0||110||250||Vitamin C |
5. Propel: Best Zero Sugar For Light to Moderate Play
Propel comes in several flavors and includes Electrolytes, Vitamins, and No Sugar. Propel Powder Packets are an easy and delicious way to hydrate your active lifestyle. Simply pour one powder packet into 16.9 ounces of water and shake.
Containing Gatorade electrolytes and no sugar, Propel Fitness Water helps put back what you lose in sweat without adding back any calories. There’s more to sweat than just water, which is why Propel Water is a water with more. This is how Gatorade does water.
So, there you have it! Electrolytes are essential for staying hydrated and performing your best during sports. Drinking plenty of fluids and replenishing your electrolytes can help prevent cramps, fatigue, and other performance-degrading symptoms.
If you’re looking for a convenient way to get the necessary electrolytes, try one of the five top electrolyte powders I reviewed. These powders are easy to mix with water and taste great, so you can stay hydrated and energized without sacrificing flavor.
Keep some in your bag, and always be prepared! Happy Pickling!