The Importance of Hydration

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With twenty minutes of class left on the clock, it’s time to muscle through petite allegro. As you string together the combination, your mental clarity fades and your ability to execute the physical power necessary seems like a far leap of faith. You’ve eaten a snack and you got a reasonable amount of sleep last night. So why are you feeling sluggish?

 

Dehydration is one of the leading factors negatively impacting a dancer’s performance, whether it’s in the studio or in the theatre. Water makes up approximately 60% of our body weight. From our muscles and bones to our blood and organs, water is an essential component to metabolic homeostasis. In addition to preventing dehydration, water aids in digestion, absorption, removal of waste products, and the transport of nutrients throughout the body. Since our body does not have a water reservoir for storage, it’s critical to replace our body’s fluid stores every day.

Aside from improving mental clarity, proper hydration prevents you from overheating, which is especially important on hot, humid days with long rehearsals and performances. Keeping your body hydrated can even help with balance, flexibility, and muscle recovery.

So, what’s the best way for dancers to stay hydrated?

Rachel’s Tips:

  1. Invest in a reusable water bottle that measures at least 24 fluid ounces.
  2. Monitor how many times you refill your reusable water bottle throughout the day. Dancers should aim for at least 3 liters, with 3.5-4 liters being the eventual goal!
  3. Drink gradually. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that athletes (yes, this includes dancers!) not only hydrate throughout exercise, but also hydrate before and after planned events like classes, rehearsals, and performances. This is best achieved by drinking smaller amounts gradually throughout the day.
  4. This is a weird one… but start noticing the color of your urine! The darker the color the more you need to hydrate.
  5. Don’t wait until your thirsty. Thirst is a late sign of dehydration. Prevent this by gradually drinking all day, every day!
  6. Aim for water. While other fluids like tea, coffee, juices, and sports drinks can count towards your total fluid goals, these can also be sources of hidden calories.
  7. Eat a balanced diet with lots of fruits and veggies. Most minimally processed foods have some bit of water in them. Aim for fruits and veggies like melons, berries, apples, cucumbers, and leafy greens for an even bigger hydrating boost!
  8. Electrolytes! Especially during the hot summer months when you’re sweating more than usual, consider options like coconut water. During these instances, your best bet is to pair coconut water, which is high in potassium, with a salty snack like pretzels or popcorn. This will help to optimize your body’s fluid-electrolyte balance.

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