It’s easy to blame the elevation when you’re feeling woozy, your head aches and your body would rather recline on the couch in the condo than stick to the skiing. We’ve all heard of altitude adjustments, getting acclimated to those 8,000-foot elevations in the mountains, and what can happen when you’re struck with a case of altitude sickness. It ruins your ski day, and you’re lucky if you can function mentally and physically until it blows over.
But sometimes altitude isn’t actually the culprit. Instead it could be a simple case of dehydration--not drinking enough fluids, water especially--when we’re tearing it up on the mountain all day. I know I’ve been guilty of this a time or two—and I watched my husband fall prey during the Talons Challenge (if I can beat him down the moguls than I know immediately that something is up). You know: the dry mouth, its cottonball-like consistency, the lack of visits to the bathroom, the pounding at the temples and the cramping in the legs.
My problem is that I often equate sweating to needing more water—I’m a runner when I’m not skiing—and so the more I sweat, the more water I need to put back into my body. Except it doesn’t work that way when you’re skiing; you’re bundled up under layers of clothing to keep warm and it’s usually on those spring days where you forgot to shed a layer that you start to feel the sweat beads form at your temples and a little moistness at the small of your back. If I’m not sweating buckets, it’s easy for me to forget to hydrate. Bad me.
Skiing is exercise, too. And like any good exercise, you’re basically nothing without water in the system. It fuels your muscles, helps keep the blood circulating through, keeps you cognizant of your surroundings, and aids your performance and endurance. If you’ve ever blacked out in sport, seen stars or felt dizzy, a lack of water could be to blame. And at the higher elevations associated with skiing, you need to drink even more of it (same holds true for food, but that’s another discussion). Thinner air means less oxygen, which makes it harder to breathe, and the faster breathing you’ll experience in the mountains increases fluid losses.
How to avoid dehydration, and stay hydrated, during a ski day:
How do you try to stay hydrated on the mountain?
Photo credit: Jack Affleck