Electrolyte Balance in Sport

Maintaining electrolyte balance is an integral part of sports performance, after all, you can only perform to your best if you are properly prepared. A large part of preparation for sports or other physical activity is the minerals and fluids in your body. In other words, your electrolyte balance. Electrolytes are electrically conducive chemical substances within your body. For your information, there are five important electrolytes in the body: sodium, chloride, potassium, calcium and last but never least, magnesium.

Electrolytes are crucial in maintaining homeostasis in the body, helping to regulate myocardial and neurological functionality, oxygen, acid-base balance and fluid balance. During sports or rigorous physical activity, you are generally pushing your body beyond its usual comfort zone, therefore, it’s important to replenish what is being used up. Electrolytes are used by cells to maintain voltage across their cell membranes and to transport electrical impulses across to other cells; these electrical impulses include nerve impulses and muscle contractions. The part of your body that helps regulate this are your kidneys, they work overtime in order to maintain constant electrolyte concentrations in the blood.

During sports, performing at peak often involves your body acting like a finely tuned machine. For the most part, that is essentially what the human body is, a finely tuned machine that is very delicate indeed. Imbalance in one area may automatically lead to imbalance elsewhere. As far as sports performance is concerned, the key is to keep your body functioning at optimum level. There are several ways in which electrolyte imbalance might take place, these include excessive ingestion, diminished ingestion, diminished elimination of an electrolyte and excessive elimination of an electrolyte. Electrolyte disturbances are most commonly caused due to possible renal failure. Accordingly, a situation might arise due to abnormal levels of sodium, potassium and calcium. These would be possible reasons for electrolyte disturbance. You should also be aware that if potential electrolyte imbalance in your body may be conducive to diarrhea and sweating, high fever, blood pressure fluctuations, muscle spasms, disorders of the nervous system and changes in blood pressure. These challenges can affect your sports or activity performance considerably.

With the correct body water balance, the electrolytes separate into positive and negative ions. When the body loses water or becomes dehydrated an electrolyte imbalance begins to happen. During strenuous exercise as often associated with sports activity, sodium and potassium electrolytes in particular are lost through sweating. To ensure constant electrolyte concentrations in the body, fluids must be regularly consumed. In order to avoid electrolyte imbalance which can bring about lethargy and muscle twitching, pro-athletes consume electrolyte solution sports drinks to ensure the electrolyte balance is maintained during and after exercise – this contributes to achieving optimum performance. Level of hydration can indeed dictate overall sports performance.

Maintaining the proper electrolyte balance in your body will put you in the best position to out-perform during your particular sports-related endeavours. Take the necessary steps before participation and post exercise to fuel your body with the right minerals and fluids to ensure peak performance.

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