7 Essential Hydration Tips For Stand Up Paddle Boarders
Hydration is important in everyday life and even more critical while being active on the water. Paddling on your SUP board, you will often be having too much fun to notice the effects of sun exposure and how hard your body is working, increasing your need for fluids.
Sub-optimal hydration can lead to decreased performance and mental fatigue, which can make your paddling outings less enjoyable and have you feeling tired and out of sorts after getting off the water.
If you get to the point of dehydration, you run the risk of more severe symptoms such as muscle cramps, heart palpitations, confusion, weakness, or worse.
Hydration is essential to your paddle boarding enjoyment and performance, so here are some tips to help you stay hydrated while getting out on your SUP board:
For Short Paddles - Stick To Water
Plain water is the best drink for moderate cruising or exploring, and much better for you than any other alternative.
There are scenarios and social environments of a more casual nature that will see even those on the strictest regimes consume alternatives, though the general advice to follow would be to avoid sugar, alcohol and caffeine which can increase thirst and result in the body needing even more water to process the additives.
Water has everything you need to keep hydrated and is processed by the body effectively and efficiently.
For Longer Paddles - Consider Electrolytes
For long-distance or high-intensity paddling, adding some sports drinks or tablets electrolytes can help replace key components that are lost through sweating and can help aid in endurance.
Sports drinks should not be overdone because most contain significant amounts of sugar or artificial sweeteners. Essentially the added sugar is a carbohydrate acting as a refined and quick energy source / delivery system which longer term has its own complications and should generally be avoided, especially by those who use SUP as a form of exercise. Artificial sweeteners can sometimes be a better alternative, though will reduce the extra calories in this specific scenario, while carrying the unknowns and ongoing debate around long term chemical consumption.
A better solution is incorporate products similar to hydralyte into your SUP kit. The tablets can be used in an emergency situation or as needed, and contain smaller amounts of sugar. Using the tablets can minimize the addition to your on water SUP kit, and be added to your on-hand water source as required.
We advise against habitually using such products, since they are designed essentially to reverse the effects of dehydration rapidly, which will not occur if proper hydration is maintained.
To help combat dehydration and keep you sharp, water should ideally be consumed at regular intervals, approximately every 20 minutes.
Even when you are paddling at a leisurely pace, your muscles are at work keeping you balanced on the board and expending energy that you may not even realize.
Frequent water breaks become even more important in hot weather or when you are paddling at a faster pace. During hot weather you may not notice dehydration until it progresses to a point where you feel the physical effects, and by that point it is time get out of the sun immediately and rehydrate.
Don’t Wait for the Effects of Dehydration
Before you feel it, your body is already experiencing some of the effects of inadequate hydration. Keep your water bottle in a convenient spot in plain view and consume some water regularly, even if you think you don't need to.
Bungees are specifically designed to keep what you need in front of you of easy access and will keep your hydration source secure.
Start Out Fully Hydrated
It is advisable to carry a reusable bottle with you and drink throughout the day. Most people go through their day slightly dehydrated and accept feeling less than 100% of their potential energy and alertness as normal.
If you start your paddle already at a hydration deficit, you’ll have an uphill climb to stay hydrated when your body starts working. While it's tempting to go with the eight glasses a day we've heard over the years, the modern take on adequate hydration is to drink what you need.
Some people will feel better if they drink more, some won't need as much. Diuretics such as caffeine and alcohol will play a big role in how hydrated you feel and should be minimal especially before longer sessions under weather related duress.
Use Reusable Bottles
We recommend a bottle that can be clipped to your board’s bungee tie-downs with a carabiner. Find a bottle that works for you and sits secure on your specific board and bungee setup.
SUP dry bags or deck bags will often have a pocket designed specifically for bottles, of the bottle can be secured underneath to keep it out of the direct sunlight.
A reusable bottle is much better for the environment than disposable plastic bottles and can save you hundreds of dollars each year that you would otherwise spend purchasing bottled water. If you would like more information on the incredibly damaging effects of plastic water bottles please see this page and video - The Story Of Bottled Water >
Make It a Habit
Like anything in life, positive habitual behavior is the key to long-term change. Try to make drinking plain water a habit! It’s better for your health, and the money you will save can be used for buying better SUP equipment!
Observing these hydration tips will improve your stamina and performance while paddle boarding and have you spending more time feeling great while enjoying the water and having fun on your SUP board.