Beach sports: the ideal nutrition to improve performance
Beach sports are by far practiced in the summer season. They allow you to stay fit and have fun at the same time. The beach volleyball, beach tennis, beach soccer and other beach games tournaments can be played as single matches to actively spend the day at the beach or faced in a more competitive way with real tournaments. From a nutritional point of view there are several factors that can contribute to the success of the game, first of all adequate hydration and rehydration . But there are two other elements that can often bother players.
We are talking about muscle cramps and the difficulty in falling asleep when tournaments are played late in the evening to avoid solar radiation, reduce ambient heat and make events more participatory even as public participation.
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Among beach volleyball players there are frequent episodes of muscle cramps, that is, involuntary and painful contractions of a muscle or part of it. Cramps arise suddenly, only sometimes they are preceded by sensations that make them fear their appearance. Muscle cramps tend to cease spontaneously within a few tens of seconds or a few minutes after the activity that caused it ceases or in a shorter time if the muscle that undergoes the cramp is passively stretched. There are cramps related to various types of pathologies, but those that occur during physical activity or within a few hours of its termination are called EAMC , that is to say Exercise-Associated Muscular Cramps (muscle cramps associated with exercise).They manifest themselves much more easily in sports whose duration is at least a few tens of minutes, therefore also in team games, beach volleyball, beach tennis and beach soccer included. In these disciplines they most frequently affect the calf muscles, but also those of the foot, thigh flexors and quadriceps.
The causes of cramps
The cramp arises, at a certain point of the effort, as a consequence of a fatiguing activity that deteriorates the correct functioning of the peripheral receptors and that determines an altered neuromuscular control. There are still many open questions, however, regarding the intimate cause of the cramp; scholars agree that it originates from the nervous system, but they discuss a lot, in particular, about the site of origin of the muscle contraction, that is to say whether it is at the central level (i.e. the brain) or peripheral (i.e. the muscle) . In any case, it is believed that the cramp during the competition more easily affects those who have already suffered from it in the past and those who are less trained.
The hypothesis of sweating
Some scholars argue that there is no relationship between cramping, profuse sweating and the consequences of sweating itself, i.e. dehydration and lack or imbalance of some electrolyte. In reality, it is usually observed that cramps are much more frequent when games are played in climatic conditions that favor the production of high amounts of sweat, or when players who until then have trained in a much cooler climate than they are in. the match is played. According to Luca Gatteschi, doctor of the national football team, cramping is more likely in footballers who produce sweat particularly rich in minerals , which, as suggested by Prof. Enrico Arcelli, is indicated by a marked white halo on the athlete’s shirt. at the armpits.
Two strategies for prevention and cramps
Beach volleyball, beach tennis and beach soccer matches are inevitably played in hot conditions and high solar radiation. In case you plan to play a game in the most profuse sweating conditions and with a large loss of salts, therefore, it is advisable to follow some suggestions:
- Drink adequately in the 24 hours preceding the competitive commitment and, in particular, take about 500 ml of water around the 2 hours preceding the start of the match. It is also the case to add to that water the minerals that are lost with sweat (sodium, chlorine, potassium and magnesium). Although it is not possible to stock up on water or minerals in the body, you will be sure to arrive at the start of the game without any deficiencies in either of them. In the last 12-24 hours it is also good to refrain from the consumption of alcoholic beverages ; in fact, they tend to cause the loss of water and minerals.
- Important factors in the prevention of cramps are regularity in training and regular practice of stretching , particularly at the beginning and end of each training session, especially in those muscles that are more prone to developing cramps.
Match in the evening: strategies to promote sleep and the ideal meal
When the match takes place in the evening, the adrenergic hormones triggered by the match could keep us euphoric, active even when fatigue subsides and we may experience difficulty relaxing and falling asleep. So how to reduce the sleep latency time and improve its night quality? Unplugging is the first step to promote the quality of sleep: starting from 1 (preferably 2 hours) before going to bed, turn off the phone, abandon your smartphone and bright screens such as PCs and TVs. The most common habit in situations of difficulty falling asleep is to use the smartphone to amuse the mind. There’s more.From a nutritional point of view, it could contribute to the quality of sleep as follows:
- It integrates magnesium : this mineral seems to promote the quality of sleep thanks to its ability to relax the muscles and regulate neurotransmitters that send positive signals to the central nervous system, also regulating the synthesis of melatonin, the wake-sleep hormone; some studies suggest about 200 mg of magnesium to enjoy this benefit.
- Watch out for caffeine and the foods and drinks that contain it . This exciting substance has a capacity to halve in the blood for 4-6 hours; the advice is to have the last coffee of the day after lunch. Consume a maximum of 2-3 in a day, no more. And beware of using chocolate and cocoa which are rich in theobrin (a substance similar to caffeine). An eye also to black tea, cappuccino, cola and food supplements with caffeine;
- Vitamin C : if you are supplementing this vitamin, prefer its intake in breakfast or in lunch. It has an energizing action on the cells, a real burst of energy, better to avoid it in the evening hours.
On the plate? If you have the opportunity to have a meal, compose it as follows:
A. do not miss a portion of carbohydrates in your dinner; its absence can lead to sleep disturbances, an early wake up call and increased stress.
B. Some protein sources also seem to stimulate a better quality of sleep as they are rich in tryptophan , an amino acid that the body uses to produce serotonin and melatonin. This is the case with chicken meat, egg white, cod and fish in general, but also with soy.
C. Also the choice of fats and their quantity, finally, affects the night’s rest: avoid an evening meal rich in fats, especially saturated ones, which decreases the total time of sleep. Excellent, however, the extra virgin olive oil rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids, beneficial for health and useful for seasoning dishes.
D. If you are unable to consume the food, replace this meal with protein powder to be diluted in cow or soy or oat milk. The substances contained will be precious both for promoting sleep and for increasing the efficiency of the nocturnal muscle recovery phase. Even more important if you have more matches tomorrow.