How Proper Hydration Can Prevent Orthopedic Injuries

Posted on November 5, 2018


If you're an avid exerciser, you know that proper hydration is important for your workouts. The more you exercise, the more fluids you lose to sweating, and the more you need to drink. But proper hydration does a lot more than just improve the quality of your workouts. It can also help to prevent orthopedic injuries. Here's how.

Preventing Cramps

Cramps are something that almost every person has experienced. They can be caused by improper stretching and lack of a warm-up, but they can also be caused by improper hydration. When you sweat, your body loses both water and electrolytes, which support normal contraction of the muscles. When your body's water and electrolyte levels drop too low, the muscles contract improperly, which causes cramping. 

How does this relate to orthopedic injuries? While most cramps are more of a nuisance than a serious problem, if you're repeatedly causing your muscles to cramp due to a lack of hydration, you can exhaust, strain, and damage those muscles.

Cartilage Repair

Water is more than a source of hydration for your body. It's also a delivery system that brings essential nutrients to your body's cartilage, allowing it to repair itself if you're injured. Even standard exercise, without what one might call "an injury," puts wear and tear on the cartilage in your body; this is especially common in the knees and ankles of avid runners and athletes.

If you don't drink enough water, the wear and tear on your cartilage will happen more quickly than your body can repair it. This can lead to cartilage tears and meniscus tears over time, which could require the attention of orthopedic surgeons in Long Island, NY.

Orthopedic injury

Reducing Joint Friction

Did you know that the cartilage supporting your joints can be up to 80% water? The water in this cartilage helps to cushion your bones so that they don't put to much pressure on or grind against one another. For example, the meniscus is the cartilage that pads your knee joint; it allows the leg bones to glide smoothly past one another without any painful grinding.

Without proper hydration, your joints won't get the proper padding, and you'll notice a lot more friction as your joints move. You may notice it as an achey feeling in your joints, or a "creaking" sensation when certain joints move. It can even lead to osteoarthritis and other serious orthopedic issues.

How Much to Drink

If you exercise regularly, remember that you should be drinking far more than the basic 8 glasses a day. Drink 20 ounces in the 2 hours before your workout, and drink 4 to 8 more ounces for every 15 to 20 minutes of exercise. After your workout, drink 24 ounces of water for every pound you lost through sweat. (If you can't weigh yourself before and after your workout, drink at least 24 ounces within one hour after your workout.)

While not all orthopedic injuries can be prevented, proper hydration can actually go a long way towards keeping your body healthy and injury-free. If you still experience an injury, contact orthopedic surgery specialists in Long Island, NY.