By Riley Larson, RD/LD
It’s easy to remember to drink water in the summer, because IT’S HOT! When you’re standing still outside, you get SWEATY! When you’re training, you get REALLY SWEATY! You have a lot of external and internal cues reminding you to hydrate. During the winter, your body’s thirst cues may be few and far between. Fewer external cues leads to fewer internal cues leads to water loss leads to dehydration over time. If you train while dehydrated, you may get dizzy faster, stay hotter longer, have less endurance, be less flexible, and experience reduced muscular strength. None of these are going to help you nail that deadlift or rainbow marchenko (obviously I’m a pole dancer, but this applies to all areas of aerial artistry)!
Chelsea Snaps MN Sports Expo ~ Sky Wild Photography
Proper hydration increases endurance. When you sweat, your body is trying to cool down your insides so your muscles can keep contracting and stretching. Without enough water to produce sweat, it’s like your body’s A/C has gone out. This can lead to overheating, dizziness, and even nausea that can make training difficult. In addition, athletes who have adequate hydration status don’t perceive as much exertion from the same exercise as dehydrated athletes. Translation: less perceived fatigue during a performance, less fear of failing grip or muscle strength, less actual failing grip or loss of strength, better overall performance.
Hydrated muscles are strong, flexy muscles. A lack of water inside your body interferes with the electrical signals needed for nerves and muscles to function properly, which results in reduced muscle strength and sensitivity. This can lead to overstretching, pulled or strained muscles, and other injuries. Conversely, it can also result in reduced active flexibility, which is the key to success for many difficult aerial moves.
Riley Vixen, MNPC 2016 ~ Alyssa Kristine Photography
Hydration allows for faster recovery and progress from training. Since proper hydration helps prevent dizziness and cramping, improves muscle strength and flexibility, and prevents overheating, it follows that hydrating appropriately is key in recovery from heavy bouts of training. Proper hydration also ensures consistent progression in strength and flexibility!
Like water, electrolytes are important for muscle and nerve function as well as endurance. Consecutive days of training (and sweating) in a row without adequate rehydration can lead to the depletion of two important electrolytes, sodium and chloride. These electrolytes are important for neural signaling and muscle contraction. Depletion of these electrolytes can lead to muscle weakness, nausea, fatigue, and severe muscle cramping. Be sure to eat a balanced diet surrounding your training times to replenish your electrolytes! When training for greater than one hour at a time, or training multiple times in one day, a sports drink consumed during and/or after training can help replenish fluids and electrolytes more effectively than plain water.
Dehydration interferes with lots of important bodily functions necessary for success as an aerial artist. Ensuring adequate hydration will up your aerial game and help you become a better athlete and performer!
"References: Fluid, Electrolytes, and Exercise. Karpinski, C. & Rosenbloom, C. Sports nutrition: a Handbook for professionals. 6th edition. Chicago, IL: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics; 2017."
Riley Larson, MNPC 2018 ~ Alyssa Kristine Photography
Riley Larson, RD/LD, is a local Twin Cities pole dancer and dietitian currently attending the UMN for her Masters in Nutrition. Her career goal is to open her own private practice focusing in nutrition counseling for aerial artists.