Drink Your Way to Better Martial Arts
Keeping yourself hydrated while you train not only keeps you from passing out on the dojo floor, it can also help you remember things better. Studies have shown that even slight dehydration effects yours ability to concentrate and retain information [Ritz and Berrut (2005)].
When the water in the body drops, the blood in the body also decreases. Blood is akin to qi, or the energy of the body. In Chinese Medicine, we learn that a slow blood flow and lack of qi brings about a sluggishness in the mind and body. The brain requires blood in order to operate optimally. Without blood, the brain becomes “choked”. The body slips into the basic instincts of survival. The mind moves away from the conscious and into the subconscious realm.
The brain orders the body to start conserving itself. The body begins to produce salt in order to retain the water that is within it. With less blood, the muscles don’t receive the proper level of nutrients it requires to grow and perform. Muscles begin to operate in an anaerobic state, potentially creating a situation for breaks and tears.
Drinking is very important to do while we train. As we get older, though, the sensation of thirst is weaker and often harder to recognize. That could be one of the reasons why children seem to always be asking for something to drink while adults can go for several hours without. This makes adults in more danger of being in a dehydrated state. And going back to above, being dehydrated leads to difficulty in concentrating and less short-term memory and retention.
One of the pitfalls of many students is that they tend to quench their thirst with caffeinated drinks. Caffeinated drinks, while replenishing water in the body, will actually trigger the brain to produce more salt. This salt in the body locks the water away in reserve and doesn’t allow it to be readily released to feed the body. That is why often after a soda, we still feel thirsty.
Sports drinks are often loaded with a lot of sugars. If you’ve ever been on a sugar rush, you know that they are often short-lived and can often lead to a sugar crash afterwards. Even substitute sugars can do this to the body.
Water is ultimately the best thirst quencher. For environmental reasons, you should try to stay away from the bottled waters. Most bottle waters don’t prove advantageous to regular tap water. In fact, of late, there have been several lawsuits against and TV documentaries about certain water bottlers falsely advertising the source of their water. Purchasing your own reusable container or cup can be just as inexpensive as water and much more environmentally friendly.
Ultimately though, be it soda, sports drinks, or water, get something handy nearby that you can drink while you train. Drinking while you train will help you concentrate better and remember what you learn. Drinking helps keep your blood at optimal levels and your muscles from potential injury.
So as you train, drink and drink often.
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