There has always been much discussion and debate about weight cuts for competition. Should we? Shouldn’t we? How much is OK? How much is dangerous? Some organizations allow IV rehydration. Others do not. But what is the real danger to the body? How does this temporary or permanently affect the brain, heart, and other vital organs such as the kidneys? As a Certified MMA Conditioning Coach, you will dive deep into this topic as part of your studies. However, let’s touch on the subject here to learn some fundamentals.
Dehydration is a common problem in the world of MMA, and it can significantly impact the performance of competitors. Whether it’s a grueling training session or an intense competition, dehydration can lead to a host of negative effects on the body, including impaired brain function, reduced physical performance, and even serious health concerns. In this lesson, we will discuss in detail how dehydration can hurt the performance of mixed martial arts competitors.
Here’s an additional article on how dehydration lowers sports performance.
Effects of Dehydration on Physical Performance for Combat Athletes
One of the most significant effects of dehydration on martial arts competitors is a reduction in physical performance. When the body is dehydrated, it struggles to maintain the proper fluid balance necessary for optimal performance. This can lead to a range of issues, including reduced endurance, increased fatigue, and impaired strength and speed.
Research has shown that even mild dehydration can have a negative impact on physical performance. For example, a study published in the Journal of Athletic Training found that dehydration of just 2% of body weight led to impaired performance in tasks such as lifting weights, running, and jumping. This study also found that dehydration caused an increase in heart rate and a decrease in body temperature, further highlighting the negative impact of dehydration on physical performance.
Effects of Dehydration on the Brain
In addition to affecting physical performance, dehydration can also have a significant impact on brain function. The brain is a highly water-dependent organ, and dehydration can lead to impaired cognitive function, decreased alertness, and a reduction in reaction time. These effects can be particularly dangerous in martial arts, where split-second decision-making and lightning-fast reflexes are crucial.
Research has shown that even mild dehydration can lead to significant impairments in brain function. For example, a study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that dehydration of just 1% of body weight led to impaired cognitive function, including decreased attention and increased fatigue. This study also found that dehydration led to a reduction in reaction time and an increase in errors during cognitive tasks. Obviously, this affects executing techniques optimally.
Effects of Dehydration on the Heart
Dehydration can also have a negative impact on the heart. When the body is dehydrated, the blood becomes thicker, making it more difficult for the heart to pump blood throughout the body. This can lead to an increased heart rate and an increased risk of heart attack or other cardiovascular events.
Research has shown that dehydration can have a significant impact on heart function. For example, a study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that dehydration caused an increase in heart rate and a decrease in cardiac output. This study also found that dehydration led to an increase in blood pressure, which can further increase the risk of cardiovascular events. Think about it. If your heart rate increases more than optimal, it’s going to decrease your performance in most cases. Keeping your heart rate lower, and in control, gives you more control over your breathing and you’re a full toolbox of techniques.
Serious Health Concerns Related to Dehydration in MMA
In addition to the immediate negative effects on physical performance and brain function, dehydration can also lead to serious health concerns in the long term. For example, chronic dehydration has been linked to a range of health issues, including kidney problems, urinary tract infections, and even kidney stones.
Furthermore, dehydration can also lead to heat exhaustion and heat stroke, particularly in hot and humid environments. Heat exhaustion is a serious condition that can lead to nausea, dizziness, and even loss of consciousness, while heat stroke is a life-threatening condition that requires immediate medical attention.
Dehydration is a significant problem in the world of martial arts, and it can have a range of negative effects on physical performance, brain function, and heart health. Even mild dehydration can lead to impairments in cognitive function, decreased endurance, and an increased risk of cardiovascular events. Therefore, it is crucial that martial arts competitors take steps to ensure they are properly hydrated before, during, and after training and competitions.
Here’s another article on the science of hydration.
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