Alcohol and sports injuries - what you need to know
With everyone in a sporting mood this summer, here's JOE's guide to not missing the target when it comes to alcohol and sport.
It’s the summer - people are dubbining up their boots, rewiring their tennis rackets and pumping up the dumbells for a beach-body.
On top of that it’s a big summer of sport - we have the European and GAA Championships at the moment and later the Olympics and Ryder Cup... amidst the sporting festivities some lunatics might attempt to take part in some real-life sporting activities this year.
Given the close inter-relation between sport and alchol in this country, something which Kilkenny hurling legend Eddie Keher spoke about to us in our interview with him recently, here’s JOE’s guide to not paying for play when dealing with alcohol and sporting injuries.
It’s been said in the past that Irish lads have a penchant for having a pint win, lose or draw, but if you’re thinking of heading back to the clubhouse for a drink post-match having picked up an injury just pause for a second to think whether you might be scoring an own-goal.
Alcohol masks pain, which might delay getting treatment, which could make all the difference to a speedy recovery. If you've been injured, avoid alcohol - at least until you've had treatment.
Booze also increases the bleeding and swelling around soft tissue injuries (sprains, bruises and cuts, which are the most common sport injuries) so you take longer to recover.
There is nothing worse than being one-on-one with the ‘keeper in the last few minutes of that vital astro-turf game and then cramping up - and what you might not know is that alcohol greatly increases the chance of this happening.
During exercise, your muscles burn sugar, producing lactic acid. Too much lactic acid leads to muscle fatigue and cramps. Drinking the night before contributes to a bigger build up of lactic acid. Drink also lowers your body's water and salt levels, another cause of developing muscle cramps. So keep in mind that drinking 24 hours before a match can lead to the deadly, frustrating cramp (and you looking like a bit of an idiot in a one-on-one with the keeper).
A lot of people believe that Olympic level fitness means an Olympic level of being able to drink and that the fitter you are means the less likely you will be affected by drink – but this isn’t true. Alcohol is absorbed into the bloodstream through the stomach walls and the intestines. Your body’s ability to then process that alcohol varies from person to person and can depend on things like your age, weight and gender – but not ﬁtness.
If you do decide to have a drink post-match, just remember it’s no substitute for water. Dehydration is always a danger post-match and alcohol affects your kidneys causing more water loss and more risk of being dehydrated, so make sure you take lots of water on board.
You can find out much more with drinkaware.ie's Alcohol, Sport and You guide, but to finish up, here’s a fairly straightforward gameplan for dealing with alcohol and sport :
● Avoid alcohol 24 hours before playing or training
● Drink lots of water
● If you’ve been injured, don’t drink alcohol until you’ve had treatment
● Eat before you drink