Those of us who practice water sports often don’t realize how much we sweat. That can lead us to falsely believe we don’t need to hydrate as much as other athletes, which is a common mistake. This is a good opportunity for me to provide some tips to surfers to help ensure you’re staying sufficiently hydrated.
Before we discuss how surfers should adequately hydrate, let’s start by explaining exactly how perspiration works. Our bodies always strive to maintain balance (homeostasis), and part of that process is regulating body temperature.
To achieve this regulation the body sweats, and perspiration emitted through our pores helps reduce the heat our bodies produce. This happens during exercise or when external temperatures are high.
If we combine both exercising and high temperatures, as surfers do, the loss of body fluids is even greater. Plus, when we sweat, we aren’t just losing water, we’re also losing important minerals that must be replenished to maintain the balance our bodies need to feel healthy. That’s why hydration plays an important role in sports performance and staying healthy.
Recommendations for staying hydrated are calculated based on an individual’s weight, so to be more practical, I’ll discuss the following tips in general terms.
Before: Drinking between 400-600 milliliters of water or natural beverages is recommended in the four hours prior to beginning, in order to have the appropriate amount of water in the body. Sometimes our bodies experience chronic dehydration, which means that we fail to recover lost fluids from the last time we went surfing, and we end up carrying over that water deficit.
During: While surfing, drinking between 400-800 mL per hour is recommended. In the first hour, the water is enough to cover our needs. But surfers usually spend more than an hour in the ocean, so hydrating with a sports drink is recommended starting in the 60th minute. These drinks contain electrolytes, which are the minerals we lose by sweating, and they also help recover lost liquids. In addition, they provide athletes energy because they contain carbohydrates.
To improve our bodies’ absorption of fluids, we should try to keep drinks between 15-21°C, which is challenging for surfers because we tend to leave our belongings on the beach, exposed to the sun. One option is to find a bottle covered in stainless steel, which helps maintain the contents’ temperature despite being exposed to the sun.
After: In the two hours following a surf session, surfers should replenish 1.5 liters of fluid for each kilogram lost. The fluids we lose while sweating have a weight that we should replenish upon exiting the ocean. To determine exactly how much fluid we need to drink, a good exercise is to weigh yourself before and after surfing.
I hope these tips are useful, whether you’re a pro or amateur surfer. Staying hydrated will make the difference in terms of performance in this sport.