You may be aware that PR Lotion helps you keep going harder for longer during training and reduces next-day soreness. But did you know that it can also keep you hydrated, particularly when you’re in hot and/or humid conditions and might not have access to water? That was the conclusion of a recent study conducted by Dr. Robert Huggins and his colleagues at the University of Connecticut’s Korey Stringer Institute (KSI). In this article, he comments on the key takeaways from this research and looks ahead to what’s next in sodium bicarbonate studies.
The Korey Stringer Institute was established to commemorate the life and legacy of its namesake, who tragically passed away from complications resulting from exertional heat stroke while participating in the Minnesota Vikings training camp on August 1, 2001. Since its inception, KSI has honored the Pro Bowl offensive tackle by providing research, education, advocacy, and consultation to maximize performance, optimizing safety, and preventing sudden death for the athlete, warfighter, and laborer.
So when it came time to pick a research partner to dive deeper into the benefits of PR Lotion, KSI was the logical choice. The objective of the study was to evaluate the effects of a topical sodium bicarbonate lotion (PR Lotion) following hyperhydration on measures of hydration status and fluid balance in humans when exposed to passive heat stress. 20 healthy male participants completed a three-day hydration baseline followed by passive heat exposure in a hot environment (91.4°F; 25 percent relative humidity) for five hours.
Subjects performed two distinct trials separated by seven days where they applied 50g of either PR Lotion or a placebo to their upper body. In other words, the same participants used PR Lotion and the placebo on different days to reduce the impact of statistical variations. During both trials, participants were hyperhydrated over a 60-minute period following application of either PR Lotion or the placebo.
Retain More Water = Perform Better for Longer
The study concluded that when the participants used PR Lotion, they retained 0.5 percent more water than when they applied the placebo. The ability to retain a greater amount of water over time could provide an advantage to athletes training and competing in warm environments.
“If I maintain one's hydration status, that can help to keep blood volume at a higher level, which can then help with sweating, cell function, and thermal regulation,” said Dr. Robert Huggins, study co-author and Vice President of Research and Athlete Performance & Safety at the Korey Stringer Institute. “The other major factor that we found was the cognitive performance change. At the very end of the trial, cognition was significantly higher where the PR Lotion group had more answers correct in the mental test we administered than the placebo lotion group.”
The magnitude of 0.5 percent water retention might not seem like much at first glance. But for an athlete weighing 80kg (176 pounds), this data shows they may retain up to 0.4 liters more water using PR Lotion than not. This could allow them to continue performing at a high level for longer, as hydration status is tied to both physical and cognitive function. Retaining more fluid can also reduce the risk of heat stroke and other heat-related events, thereby increasing the safety of athletes and warfighters in hot and humid conditions.
“There has been research showing that for every one percent of body mass lost during exertion, heart rate goes up between five to 10 beats per minute and core body temperature rises by around 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit,” Huggins said. “So for this particular PR Lotion study, you could cut these numbers in half. We could also see slightly higher core temps and heart rates as the magnitude of dehydration becomes greater. For an athlete, that half a percent change in hydration status and the physiological changes it creates could be the difference between winning a race or not and, for the warfighter, surviving in combat or not. The ability to utilize PR Lotion to preserve hydration levels becomes even more essential if you don’t have ready access to fluids, such as if you’re miles from an aid station in a race or in the middle of the desert during deployment. In many situations, you could replenish that half a percent with fluids, but when this isn’t possible, you might need to use another strategy, or that percentage could have a significant detrimental effect on your physical performance and cognition.”
Adding Exercise into the Mix
This particular study only examined how PR Lotion impacted participants’ hydration status when they were exposed to heat and humidity. While this is its own stressor, the demands of physical exertion combined with training or racing in hot conditions increases the load on your physiology and makes it more likely that you’ll become dehydrated. With this in mind, Huggins and his colleagues at KSI are about to start a second, follow-up study that examines how PR Lotion influences hydration levels while athletes are exercising.
“We're excited for the second study because we will be able to see blood sodium levels after the placement of PR Lotion without any fluid being given, so we'll get a better idea of how much is absorbed with the lotion alone and also how much is absorbed with lotion application and fluid ingestion,” Huggins said. “Our next study will examine various doses of PR Lotion per kilogram of body mass too.”
Huggins noted that no supplement can be a cure-all for hydration. PR Lotion might prove helpful in keeping you hydrated while training or competing in hot and/or humid conditions to some extent, but dialing in your sleep, hydration, nutrition, and cooling strategy as part of a cohesive plan will yield the best results. To learn more about the fine work of the Korey Stringer Institute, visit their website at https://ksi.uconn.edu/. And keep your eyes peeled on this blog and the Momentous Podcast for more exciting research on PR Lotion and other Momentous products that’s coming soon.