Market Insight: Beating the heat - lessons to be learnt from the FIFA Club World Cup
This week is one of the most significant periods in Liverpool FC’s recent history, and a seismic one for world football.
For the first time a significant global soccer tournament - the FIFA Club World Cup - takes place in the desert and so begins one of the most fascinating and sure to be a controversial period for the global game.
As the Champions League winners take to the pitch on Wednesday evening in Al Rayyan against Monterrey, both clubs will have a number of major hurdles to overcome.
The aptly named Education City Stadium should be a centre of enlightenment for all observers as football takes a firm foothold in the Middle East.
Heat, hydration, travel and recovery will all play significant factors this week, not only for the Reds but for the clubs that have travelled even greater distances to get to the tournament, which will officially crown the world best club.
Monterrey, who face Liverpool on Wednesday will have travelled an extraordinary 13,500 km to reach the tournament, dwarfing Liverpool’s not insignificant 4,500 km travel and a considerable distance more than Flamengo who will have travelled from Rio – 11,500 kms.
Time wise the Mexican and Brazilian sides have to contend with up to nine hours’ time difference, adding to the travel symptoms which include increased stress levels which causes levels of cortisol and adrenaline to surge (particularly if you are nervous about flying).
Being sedentary for a long time reduces blood flow and stiffens muscles, the air quality, water quality and food quality on planes is poor. Each of these factors increases nutritional requirements and a greater focus on hydration to support the immune system, the gut and the liver. Totum Sport is the only supplement that provides all 78 electrolytes that the cells need to achieve complete hydration and should therefore be used to help combat the effects of travel on the body.
Before you even consider the challenges for Liverpool of playing in hot temperatures, you need to appreciate the additional stress for athletes such travel puts on the body, as well as the considerable fixture pile-up that participation in such blue ribband tournaments adds to the club’s already packed roster.
Negotiating such difficult issues and their effects on the squad puts the focus firmly on the science behind the team, and this is where the nutritionists and dieticians should come into their own.
While the temperatures for the evening kick offs will be around the mid-twenties, it is the humidity that will add to the considerable challenges faced by the scientists at LFC.
Of course, Liverpool aren’t sharing their performance and recovery strategies with us, but you can be sure that a club which is more used to playing in freezing conditions at this time of the year, will have built their entire mid-season strategy around this extraordinary event.
What we do know is all strategies will be based around optimal hydration - for one very obvious reason, our bodies are made up of around 70% water - yes, even these football gods are mere mortals.
Only perfect hydration supports performance in football training and matches due to the physiological effects of water in the body. Hydration helps to maintain optimal body temperature and blood volume and aids muscle contraction and function (1).
To maintain adequate hydration, the body requires enough intake of both water and electrolytes, and despite the sheer weight of choice out there from so-called supplements very few carry the correct amount of trace elements and minerals to allow the footballer’s body to recover.
The League Managers Association (LMA) in England have partnered with Totum Sport, to help provide adequate hydration to its august membership.
The solution – which is part of the Cellnutrition Sport Ltd stable - is a 100% natural marine based sports supplement that provides all 78 electrolytes that the cells require for complete hydration and in a bioavailable form.
So for Liverpool FC and any other clubs not just dealing with desert heat, the need for sufficient water and electrolytes is paramount for eradicating thirst and reducing sweat and urine production to preserve water.
Dehydration reduces plasma volume, increases blood thickness and reduces the amount of blood returning to the heart, which consequently reduces cardiac output (2).
As Jurgen Klopp’s dietetic and nutrition teams will know only too well the most damaging symptoms of dehydration include muscle cramps, increased heart rate and cardiovascular strain and fatigue (3).
As sweat production is reduced when the body is dehydrated this leads to an increased rate of glycogen breakdown in the muscles, contributing to increased muscle fatigue during performance (2). The breakdown of glycogen during exercise leads to an intracellular increase of lactic acid, reducing the pH and causing muscle fatigue (3).
Appropriate strategies should be put in place for games to combat stressors such as different time zones and changes in temperatures.
The physical demands of football training and matches heavily depend on the players nutrition and hydration stores which is why these strategies are so critical and important to the successful management of all players.
Make no mistake about it, this tournament will be fascinating on so many levels, and with many international stars participating it will provide important lessons as we hurtle towards the FIFA World Cup in 2022.
Totum Sport is the Global Hydration partner of Soccerex. For more information please go to totum-sport.co.uk
- “Fluids and Electrolytes.”SpringerReference(2011): n. pag. June 2009. Web. 22 June 2015.
- Jeukendrup, Asker E., and Michael Gleeson.Sport Nutrition: An Introduction to Energy Production and Performance. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 2010. N.pag. Print.
- 3.Westerblad,Håkan, David G. Allen, and Jan Lännergren. “Muscle Fatigue: Lactic Acid or Inorganic Phosphate the Major Cause?” American Journal of Physiology 1 (2002): 17-21. Web. 10 July 2015.
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