Ideal nutrition for beach sports such as beach volleyball and beach tennis

Words Elena Casiraghi, PhD
Beach sports are mostly practiced in the summer season for obvious reasons. They allow you to stay in shape and have fun at the same time. Beach volley, beach tennis, beach soccer, and other beach games tournaments can be played as individual matches to actively spend the day at the beach or faced more competitively with real tournaments. Several factors can contribute to the success of the game, notably, adequate hydration and rehydration from a nutritional point of view.
But two other elements can often disturb the players. We are talking about muscle cramps and the sleeping difficulties when tournaments are played late in the evening to avoid the sun's rays, reduce the environmental heat and make the events more participative also as public participation. We will talk about these topics in the next few lines, specifically:

  1. How you can track your outdoor sports activities with mywellness Technogym
  2. Muscle cramps: causes and consequences
  3. Two strategies to prevent cramping
  4. Matches in the evening: four strategies to promote sleep

1.Track your outdoor sports activities with mywellness

With mywellness, you can manage outdoor sports activities such as beach tennis and beach volleyball on mobile devices using the Technogym app, at home via personal computers or Technogym equipment, on holiday or wherever you train, for a personalised experience.
In the industry, mywellness is a platform that allows users to live a completely personalised experience (training programs, data, and content) throughout their journey, both in the equipment room and during classes (cycling, rowing, based on heart rate and much more) and in outdoor training or during beach volleyball and beach tennis matches.

Mywellness can also be integrated with the most popular wearable devices and tracking applications such as Apple Health, Runkeeper, Strava.

For example, thanks to Technogym's mywellness platform, the Technogym app integrates indoor training with everyday activities and outdoor training such as running or cycling, via GPS functions and the accelerometer on your smartphone. The platform can also be integrated with the most popular wearable devices and tracking applications such as Apple Health, Runkeeper, and Strava.

2. Muscle cramps: causes and prevention

Among beach volleyball players there are frequent episodes of muscle cramps, i.e. involuntary and painful contractions of a muscle or part of it. The cramps arise suddenly which in itself can increase the panic that goes with this type of incident. Muscle cramps tend to stop spontaneously within a few tens of seconds or a few minutes after the activity that determined it ceases, or in a shorter time if the muscle that encounters the cramp is stretched passively. There are cramps related to various types of diseases, but those that occur during physical activity or within a few hours of its end are called EAMC - Exercise-Associated Muscular Cramps.
They are much more easily seen in sports where the duration is at least a few tens of minutes, so also in team games, including beach volleyball, beach tennis, and beach soccer. In these disciplines, they mostly affect the muscles of the calf, but also those of the foot, the flexors of the thigh and quadriceps.

Causes of cramps

Cramping occurs at a certain point of exertion as a result of fatiguing activity that degrades the proper functioning of peripheral receptors and leads to altered neuromuscular control. There are still many open questions, in any case, about 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, i.e. whether it is at the central level (i.e. the brain) or peripheral (i.e. the muscle). In any case, it is believed that cramping in the course of competition affects more easily those who in the past have already suffered 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, dehydration and the deficiency or imbalance of some electrolyte. Cramps are usually found to be much more frequent when games are played under climatic conditions that encourage the production of large amounts of sweat, or when players who have trained in a much cooler climate than the one in which the match is played.
According to Luca Gatteschi, doctor of the Italian National Football Team, cramping is more likely even in footballers who produce a sweat particularly rich in minerals, which, as suggested by Prof. Enrico Arcelli, is indicated by a marked white halo on the shirt of the athlete at the armpits.

3. Two strategies to prevent cramps

Beach volleyball, beach tennis, and beach soccer games are played in hot and sunny conditions. In case you plan to play a game in the most abundant conditions of sweating and with a large loss of salts, thus, you should follow some tips:

  1. drink in the 24 hours before the competition and take about 500 ml of water around the 2 hours before the start of the game. It is also necessary to add to that water the minerals that are lost through sweat (sodium, chlorine, potassium, and magnesium). Although it is not possible to stock up on water or minerals in the body, you can be sure that you will arrive at the beginning of the game without any deficiencies in either one or the others. In the last 12-24 hours, it is also good to refrain from consuming alcoholic beverages; in fact, they tend to cause the loss of water and minerals.
  • 2. Important factors in the prevention of cramps are regular training and regular practice of stretching, especially at the beginning and end of each training session, especially in those muscles that are most prone to the development of cramps.

4. Match in the evening: strategies to promote sleep

When the match takes place in the evening, the adrenergic hormones activated by the match could keep us euphoric, active even when fatigue overcomes, and we may feel difficulty in relaxing and getting to sleep. So how do we reduce sleep latency time and improve its quality at night? Unplugging is the first step to promote the quality of sleep: from 1 (better 2 hours) before going to bed turn off your phone, abandon your smartphone and the bright screens such as PC and TV. The most common habit in situations of difficulty in falling asleep is to use the smartphone to entertain the mind. There's more.
From a nutritional point of view, you could contribute to the quality of sleep so:

  • Supplements magnesium: this mineral seems to promote the quality of sleep thanks to its ability to relax the muscles and regular neurotransmitters that send positive signals to the central nervous system, also regulating the synthesis of melatonin, the wake-sleep hormone; some studies suggest to enjoy this benefit that you need to take about 200 mg of magnesium.
• Watch out for caffeine and the foods and drinks that contain it. This heart raising substance can halve in the blood in 4-6 hours, the advice is to take the last coffee of the day after lunch. Drink 2-3 in one day at the most, no more. And be careful to use chocolate and cocoa that are rich in theobromine (a substance like caffeine). Also, keep an eye on black tea, colas and dietary supplements with caffeine;
  • Vitamin C: if you are supplementing this vitamin, it can be preferable to take this at breakfast or lunch. It has an energising action on the cells, a real burst of energy, thus it’s better to avoid it in the evening hours.
If you have the possibility of eating a meal, make up your dish as follows:

  • Do not miss carbohydrates in your dinner. Its absence can lead to sleep disturbances, an early wake-up call, and increased stress. Some sources of protein, then, 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 soya.
  •  Finally, the choice of fats and their quantity also affects night-time rest: avoid an evening meal rich in fats, especially saturated fats, which reduces total sleep time. Excellent, however, the extra virgin olive oil rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids, beneficial to health and useful for seasoning dishes.
  • If you cannot consume food, replace this meal with protein powder to be diluted in cow's milk or soy or oat. The substances contained will be valuable both to promote sleep and to increase the efficiency of the phase of nocturnal muscle recovery. Even more important if you have more matches the next day.

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