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    The Effects of Dehydration for Spearfishing | Cramp, Poor EQ and Bad Decision Making

    January 15, 2024 6 min read

    The Effects of Dehydration for Spearfishing | Cramp, Poor EQ and Bad Decision Making

    Staying well-hydrated is not just a matter of comfort; for spearfishers, it's a critical factor that can influence performance, decision-making, and overall well-being underwater. In this article, we explore the multifaceted impacts of dehydration on cognition, physical endurance, and muscular health during spearfishing expeditions. From the cognitive challenges that arise to the risk of muscle cramps and the interference with pressure equalization, we delve into how dehydration can be a spearos nemesis.

    Cognition and Decision Making

    Dehydration can have profound effects on various aspects of human functioning, including cognition, physical endurance, and sporting performance. Firstly, cognitive function is significantly impacted when the body is deprived of an adequate amount of water. Studies have shown that even mild dehydration can lead to difficulties in concentration, memory, and overall cognitive performance. Dehydrated individuals may experience increased perception of task difficulty, reduced alertness, and slower reaction times, which can be particularly concerning in activities that demand mental sharpness, such as decision-making in spearfishing.



    In terms of physical endurance, dehydration plays a crucial role in diminishing an individual's capacity for sustained physical activity. The body's ability to regulate temperature is compromised when dehydrated, leading to increased strain on the cardiovascular system and reduced efficiency in heat dissipation. This, in turn, can result in premature fatigue, reduced muscle endurance, and an elevated perception of effort during exercise. Spearos engaging in prolonged spearing sessions are particularly susceptible to these effects, impacting their overall performance.


    Muscle Cramp

    The relationship between muscle cramps and hydration is intimately connected, with adequate fluid balance playing a pivotal role in preventing this uncomfortable phenomenon. Cramps, characterized by sudden, involuntary muscle contractions, are often linked to dehydration. Insufficient fluid intake can lead to an electrolyte imbalance, particularly a deficiency in sodium, potassium, and magnesium, essential minerals for proper muscle function. When the body is dehydrated, the concentration of electrolytes in the muscles becomes imbalanced, rendering them more susceptible to spasms and cramping. Proper hydration ensures that the muscles receive an adequate supply of electrolytes, maintaining their optimal function and reducing the likelihood of cramps. Therefore, staying well-hydrated is a key preventive measure to alleviate the risk of muscle cramps during physical activity and promote overall muscular health.For more info on avoiding calf cramps spearfishing, check out this article.



    When you're into freediving or spearfishing, your body sweats and loses fluids because of diuresis, thanks to something called peripheral vasoconstriction—a part of the mammalian diving reflex (MDR). If you're not proactively hydrating, dehydration becomes a real concern. And dehydration, aside from its other not-so-great effects, makes the mucus in your nasal cavities stickier, messing with the whole pressure equalization thing.


    Maximum Micturition 🚽

    To micturate, tinkle, wee, pee or just plain urinate is a common (and pressing) need while spearfishing but do you know why?

    The Mammalian Dive Reflex (MDR) is an automatic response that occurs in mammals, including humans, when they are submerged in water. This reflex is characterized by several physiological changes, such as peripheral vasoconstriction, bradycardia (slowing of the heart rate), and conservation of oxygen to vital organs. These adaptations help mammals conserve oxygen and endure longer periods underwater.

    The relationship between the Mammalian Dive Reflex and dehydration lies in the fact that one of the effects of the MDR is peripheral vasoconstriction. Peripheral vasoconstriction involves the narrowing of blood vessels in the extremities, redirecting blood flow to vital organs like the heart and brain. While this adaptation is beneficial for conserving oxygen during a dive, it can also lead to increased fluid loss through diuresis, which is the production of urine.

    When a person engages in activities like freediving or spearfishing, where the MDR is triggered, they will experience fluid loss due to increased urine production. If this fluid loss is not adequately replenished through hydration, it can lead to dehydration. 


    How to stay hydrated

    Now that I’ve convinced you that dehydration is a spearo's nemesis, I’ve got some actionable tips (and a killer product) to make staying hydrated easy!

    1. Drink a glass of water first thing in the morning. Explanation: Starting your day with water kickstarts your metabolism, helping to wake up your body and provides an initial energy boost. It also provides a hydrated foundation for a full day out diving. 
    2. Invest in a good water bottle. Explanation: A quality water bottle acts as a visual cue, reminding you to stay hydrated throughout the day, making it easier to track and meet your water intake goals. *It may get bathed in fish juice.
    3. Make a habit to have a drink every so often. Explanation: Establishing regular hydration habits, such as drinking each time you return to the boat or place a fish in your floatboat, helps ensure consistent fluid intake, crucial for sustained energy during activities like spearfishing.
    4. Listen to your body's signals. Explanation: Paying attention to whether you're thirsty or hungry is key. Sometimes, the body signals thirst as hunger, leading to overeating. Staying mindful helps you respond appropriately to your body's needs. If your equalization is feeling sticky, sit out for 10-20 minutes and hydrate. 
    5. Check the color of your urine throughout the day. Explanation: Monitoring the color of your urine serves as a simple indicator of hydration levels. Clear or light-colored urine suggests adequate hydration, while dark yellow urine may signal dehydration, prompting you to increase your water intake. Hard to check when you are weeing in your suit all day but this could help;)
    6. Swap high sugar drinks for Aqualyte. Explanation: Choosing Aqualyte over high-sugar beverages not only reduces unnecessary sugar intake but also contributes to your overall hydration, supporting better health and performance, especially in water-based activities like spearfishing.


    Aqualyte Hydration Supplements

    West Australian company Aqualyte (available online here) offers a range of hydration supplements designed to provide effective hydration for individuals engaged in spearfishing. Some key benefits include:

    1. Electrolyte Balance: Aqualyte products help maintain a proper balance of electrolytes in the body, crucial for spearfishers who may experience increased sweating and dehydration during their activities.
    2. Rapid Hydration: The products are formulated to facilitate rapid hydration, aiding spearfishers in replenishing fluids quickly after exertion in the water.
    3. Enhanced Performance: Proper hydration can contribute to improved physical performance, endurance, and focus, allowing spearfishers to stay alert and perform at their best in challenging underwater environments.
    4. Convenience and Portability: Aqualyte products are likely designed to be convenient for on-the-go use, ensuring that spearfishers can easily carry and consume them during their expeditions.
    5. Recovery Support: The electrolyte-rich formulation may assist in post-activity recovery, reducing the risk of cramps and muscle fatigue commonly associated with dehydration.
    6. Tailored for Outdoor Enthusiasts: Aqualyte's products are likely crafted with the needs of outdoor enthusiasts in mind, addressing the specific hydration challenges faced by those engaged in spearfishing.
    7. Scientifically Formulated: The company's commitment to scientific formulation suggests that their products are designed based on research and expertise in the field of hydration, ensuring efficacy for users.

    There are alternatives and they can be found in your local pharmacy but I likeAqualytle because they are a lower sugar, less acidic supplement that was recommended to me by a spearo who works there. I've been using it for 3 years and it’s got me through many extended dive trips with less cramp issues and my ears have stood up to 5-6 days of diving in a row. 

    This article underscores the importance of hydration for spearfishers, highlighting its far-reaching effects on cognition, physical endurance, and overall well-being beneath the surface. From the cognitive challenges that dehydration poses to the risk of muscle cramps and interference with pressure equalization, the comprehensive exploration of these effects emphasizes that dehydration is indeed a spearos nemesis. The practical tips provided, coupled with Aqualyte's hydration supplements, offer actionable solutions for spearos to integrate effective hydration into their routines. In the realm of spearfishing, where physical and mental performance are paramount, prioritizing hydration emerges as a key strategy for a successful and enjoyable underwater experience.


    About the Writer

    Isaac Daly - more commonly known as Shrek in our spearfishing community, is a spearfishing and freediving instructor, Noob Spearo Podcast host and Author. He froths on the spearfishing lifestyle and loves teaching others how to spearfish safely, effectively and ethically. Connect with him athttps://www.noobspearo.com/