In my ongoing effort to highlight safety studies addressing combative sports, a recent study was published in the Journal of Physical Medicine Science studying dehydration and skeletal muscle damage in elite wrestlers.
The study involved seventy-two elite wrestlers who participated in the Turkish Wrestling Championship and revealed that dehydrated wrestlers suffered from higher level of skeletal muscle damage than wrestlers who were not dehydrated. The authors provided the following summary:
In summary, fast and/or higher levels of weight loss before a competition produced differences in wrestlers’ hydration indicator levels. Damage in skeletal muscles of the dehydrated wrestlers was greater than in those hydrated, but no difference was found in the inflammation levels of the groups. If it is necessary to lose weight before a competition, athletes should do it in a way to achieve a gradual and extended weight loss over a period of time depending on the weight loss targeted. In addition, while athletes are losing weight, they should keep levels of hydration and skeletal muscle damage indicators within their reference ranges through ergogenic aids. Thus, ergogenic aids will play a mediator role for wrestlers wishing to demonstrate maximum performance and to lead a healthy life.
This serves as yet another reminder to regulators that allowing rapid extreme weight cuts prior to competition and the dehydration that accompanies this practice is inconsistent with looking after fighter welfare, a central tenet of the mission statement of combat sports Athletic Commissions.
The full article can be accessed here Dehydration, skeletal muscle damage in Wrestlers
and below is the article’s abstract –
Abstract. [Purpose] The present study aimed to identify weight-loss and hydration levels before competitions among elite wrestlers and determine the skeletal muscle damage and inflammation levels after dehydration. [Subjects] Seventy-two elite wrestlers who participated in the Turkish Wrestling Championship. [Methods] With the help of specialists, 5 cc of blood were drawn from the forearm veins of the wrestlers. Laboratory analyses of Na+, BUN, Glucose, CK, LDH, AST, ALT, C-RP levels were performed. Using a mathematical formula for hydration the POsm levels of the athletes were calculated. [Results] The wrestlers were divided into two groups based on hydration status. There were significant correlations between hydration indicators of Na+, BUN and PBWL values. There were significant differences between AST, LDH, CK values and skeletal muscle damage indicators of the two groups, but there were no significant differences between the inflammation levels and C-RP values of the groups. [Conclusion] No differences existed in inflammation levels among the wrestlers, although dehydrated wrestlers suffered from higher level of skeletal muscle damage than wrestlers who were not dehydrated.