Athletes always strive for optimal performance and speedy muscle recovery in sports and fitness. Ensuring your body can push itself to its limits is essential for any athlete. How does one do this?
Many things can be done to prepare your body for intense physical activity, whether it’s playing a particular sport or hitting it hard at the gym. Most are familiar with the basics, such as the following:
- Adequate sleep
- Healthy diet
- Drinking a lot of water
- Taking supplements
- Warming up your muscles before any activity
- Stretching after
- Limiting alcohol intake
These factors have been shown to enhance endurance, reduce fatigue, and expedite muscle restoration. But, an athlete can do more to prepare for an upcoming event or recover the following day.
Intravenous (IV) hydration with vitamins has been growing in popularity for athletes over the years. Originally, this treatment was only available in a hospital setting, but smaller clinics have recently brought IV hydration to the public.
The popularity of this recovery method has led to the emergence of mobile IV therapy services tailored for athletes on the move.
What is IV Hydration?
A nurse or physician’s assistant will administer IV hydration treatments. They place an IV catheter into a vein, typically in the arm, but can also be placed in other locations. Then, fluids containing electrolytes, vitamins, and, often, certain medications will be administered into the IV.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, “IV fluids are specially formulated liquids that are injected into a vein to prevent or treat dehydration. They’re used in people of all ages who are sick, injured, dehydrated from exercise or heat, or undergoing surgery. Intravenous rehydration is a simple, safe, and common procedure with a low risk of complications.”
Receiving fluids through an IV will allow for greater hydration when compared to drinking water alone. Why is this? There are a couple of reasons. First, because the fluids are administered directly into the bloodstream, it allows for faster and greater absorption.
Second, IV fluid bags are a combination of pure sterile water and Sodium Chloride. Sodium Chloride provides the body with essential electrolytes, while the lungs and kidneys primarily regulate the balance of water. Water distribution in the body relies on the concentration of electrolytes, mainly controlled by sodium, within different compartments.
Sodium is crucial in maintaining homeostatic concentrations and water distribution. Normal saline increases intravascular volume without disrupting ion concentration or causing substantial fluid shifts among intracellular, intravascular, and interstitial spaces (NIH).
Role of Hydration in Athletic Performance
Water is the second most vital element needed for life after oxygen. Your body is composed of between 60% and 78% water. The brain and heart are about 73% water, the skin is about 64% water, bones are about 31% water, and muscles and kidneys are about 79% water (Cleveland Clinic 2023).
Water is particularly crucial for athletes. During physical activity, muscles generate heat that must be released to prevent the body from overheating. Sweating is the primary mechanism for dissipating this excess heat.
While sweating aids in cooling the body, it also leads to the loss of water and essential sodium. Failure to replenish these can result in dehydration, especially in the context of athletics, where moderate to intense physical activities disrupt fluid homeostasis. Also, in warmer environments, the risk of dehydration is heightened, leading to increased cardiovascular stress due to rising temperatures.
Water’s functions in the body are multifaceted—it aids digestion, lubricates joints and bones, balances hormones, delivers oxygen throughout the body, regulates temperature, and acts as a shock absorber for the brain and spinal cord.
In athletics, dehydration is often combatted by consuming common sports drinks like Gatorade or Powerade. While popular for replenishing electrolytes, these drinks often contain excessive sugar and synthetic dyes.
Despite their efficacy in replenishing electrolytes and mitigating dehydration in athletes, caution is advised. Some medical professionals warn against excessive consumption of these flavored beverages due to potential risks such as excess weight gain, cardiovascular issues, diabetes, and oral health concerns. Balancing hydration with mindful beverage choices is essential for athletes seeking optimal performance and overall well-being.
Why is Sodium Important?
When people think of sodium, they often think of table salt and the adverse effects of consuming too much salt on the body. But the sodium your body relies on differs from your ordinary table salt.
The sodium that our bodies crave and need are electronically charged minerals called electrolytes. According to Medline Plus, these electrolytes assist your body in several processes.
Benefits of Sodium (electrolytes) Include…
- Maintaining proper levels of fluids in the body.
- Regulating the pH balance of the body.
- Helps your body’s nerves and muscles work correctly.
When your body isn’t getting enough good sodium or, on the contrary, when it’s getting too much, it can lead to dehydration, kidney issues, and other adverse effects.
So, how do you know if your body is too high or too low on sodium?
Symptoms associated with a body low in sodium include fatigue, states of confusion, twitching muscles, weakness, and, in more extreme circumstances, seizures, coma, and even death.
Symptoms associated with a body high in sodium include increased thirst, vomiting, diarrhea, confusion, muscle twitching, low urine output, and possibly seizures and coma.
Knowing whether your body is low or high in sodium may be difficult. A sodium blood test is a safe and accurate way to find out. This test is typically a part of an electrolyte panel ordered by your doctor to monitor your health. It checks the body’s balance of fluids, electrolytes, and pH levels.
The Role of Vitamins for Athletes
Although fluid intake is essential for the overall health of an athlete, it’s not the thing that athletes can benefit from an IV hydration treatment. Vitamins are another crucial component of IV drips that can help increase performance and recovery from strenuous activity.
Vitamins are essential micronutrients the body needs in small amounts for various physiological functions. A well-balanced diet can provide all the nutrients that a body needs, but often, we don’t consume enough, leaving us with deficiencies. This is where supplementing with vitamins through an IV drip is beneficial.
Ways in which vitamins can benefit athletes:
Amino Acids: Amino Acids are molecules that work together to form proteins that help the body in several processes, including the breaking down of food. More importantly for athletes, they support muscle building by repairing tissues and providing energy for the body to reduce fatigue and boost performance.
Vitamin C: Vitamin C is essential to a healthy body. It helps form and maintain bones, skin, and blood vessels. Dr. Kara Fitzgerald describes it as “one of the most famous antioxidants.” As an antioxidant, it protects our cell structures to reduce damage and inflammation. Unfortunately, the human body cannot fully synthesize it and has a limited ability to retain vitamin C. Thus, making it crucial to receive it through supplements.
B-Complex: B-complex is a combination of 8 B vitamins, including thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, pyridoxine, biotin, folic acid, and cobalamin. These vitamins are needed to produce energy pathways in the body. Athletes, specifically, will have a diminished capacity for high-intensity exercise if their bodies have low B vitamin levels. The addition of B-complex will aid in energy metabolism and cell regeneration.
B-12: Vitamin B12 plays a critical role in producing nerve cells, DNA, RNA, and red blood cells. When an individual has low levels of B12, energy levels decrease, which can lead to lower muscular endurance. Dr. Jennifer Tanner states, “Any athlete running in a deficient state will have a negative impact on their performance.” She also states that B12 “increases red blood cells to enhance the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood, therefore supporting aerobic performance.”
Magnesium: Magnesium is a crucial nutrient for all individuals, especially athletes. When one’s physical activity rises, the need for magnesium also rises. Magnesium plays a vital role in energy metabolism, cell growth, and maintaining normal muscle function. However, athletes often overlook its importance. Studies have shown that those with optimum magnesium levels have increased endurance, fewer muscle cramps, and improved cardiorespiratory indicators.
Zinc: Zinc is an essential mineral that plays a role in many physiological functions, including the immune system, tissue repair, DNA synthesis, and enzyme function. Oftentimes, a training athlete’s diet differs from a typical individual’s, leading to them consuming low levels of zinc. “In athletes, zinc deficiency can lead to anorexia, significant loss in body weight, latent fatigue with decreased endurance, and a risk of osteoporosis.”
Glutathione: Glutathione is a potent antioxidant synthesized naturally in the liver, consisting of three amino acids: cysteine, glycine, and glutamate. It plays a crucial role in counteracting free radicals and detoxifying harmful substances that may otherwise inflict damage on cells and tissues. Since athletes regularly subject their bodies to physical stress, free radicals, and oxidative stress are elevated. This heightened oxidative burden can lead to muscle fatigue, soreness, and prolonged recovery periods. Glutathione plays a pivotal role in neutralizing these compounds, thus reducing muscle damage and inflammation and expediting recovery.
How Does IV Hydration + Vitamins Help in Athletic Performance and Recovery?
IV hydration treatments significantly benefit athletes by directly delivering essential fluids, electrolytes, and vitamins into the bloodstream. This method ensures rapid absorption, surpassing the efficiency of oral supplements.
First, treatments aid in hydration, which is critical for athletes facing intense physical activity and sweating to prevent dehydration and support optimal performance. Furthermore, IV therapy accelerates recovery by reducing inflammation with anti-inflammatory agents and promoting faster healing of micro-tears and injuries.
The infusion of vitamins, including amino acids, vitamin C, B-complex, B-12, magnesium, zinc, and glutathione, addresses nutrient deficiencies common in athletes, enhancing energy metabolism, muscle regeneration, and overall well-being.
The immediate and targeted delivery of these nutrients distinguishes IV therapy as a fast and effective tool for athletes seeking to optimize their performance and recovery. It complements essential lifestyle practices like a balanced diet and regular exercise, providing a holistic approach to athletic well-being.
What sets IV hydration apart is its adaptability. Each treatment can be customized to meet individual athletes’ specific needs and preferences. This personalized approach, combined with essential lifestyle practices like a balanced diet and regular exercise, creates a holistic strategy for enhancing athletic well-being.
Safety of IV Hydration for Athletes
IV hydration treatments for athletes are safe and effective when administered by an experienced licensed medical professional from a reputable company. It’s crucial to choose a facility where safety is the top priority.
At Mobile IV Stat, safety is central to our commitment to providing outstanding care. Our safety protocols involve a thorough pre-IV assessment. Before placing any IV, our Nurse Practitioner conducts a Telehealth consultation with patients over the phone, meticulously reviewing their medical history.
This pre-screening ensures we have a detailed understanding of the individual’s health background. This will allow us to tailor our services to their needs. By incorporating a Nurse Practitioner into our process, we prioritize safety and enhance the overall quality of care, providing each client a secure and personalized experience.