Athletes can take precautions for heat

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 15, 2005

The Selma Times-Journal

It is often said that success on the gridiron begins in the weight room It is also during those summer months that athletes are most likely to be injured by heat.

In a recent study conducted by the University of Cincinnati, it was found that athletes stand a greater chance of becoming dehydrated during the summer months and working out in extreme heat.

Extreme heat is a perfect way to describe the south during the summer months. Temperatures can range from the low 90’s to the low 100’s. When athletes put their gear on, their body temp can rise as well.

Walker also suggests for athletes to:

Allow for acclimation: Athletes should cut back on exercise levels/length.

Drink up: Sweat losses will be higher once the body has become acclimated to the heat

Don’t just pour water: Fluid has to go into the body, not over the athlete’s head.

Carry a sports drink: Take a Gatorade/Powerade with you to work out to quickly replenish any electrolytes that were expelled during workouts.

Exercise when it’s coolest: It is best to do this when the weather is coolest either in the morning or evening

Wear light colored, light-weight clothing: wearing dark clothes to workout is like being in a dark vehicle, it traps heat so the body will expel more energy and the athlete will sweat more trying to remain cool.

Keep the wet shirt on: just like the way the shirt made the body sweat, it will also act as a cooler on the body and help the body reach a normal temperature

Athletes should also increase their intake of solid foods,&uot; said Walker. "They should focus on foods low in caffeine and high in salt to replace what is lost during heavy workouts.&uot;

According to the athleticadvisors.com website, when the air temperature is 95 degrees or greater, all bodily heat loss occurs through evaporation, meaning the athlete’s sweat may be minimal, but, when it is over 75 percent humidity, evaporation slows and sweating becomes very inefficient to cooling the body. When an athlete works out in a situation where both of these factors are present, then bodily heat loss will diminish to nearly zero.

That is when the athlete is at the greatest risk of suffering dehydration or even a heat stroke.

Also, athletes are encouraged to discontinue any use of supplements, such as Creatine. The reason for this being that some supplements increase water uptake by the muscle cells, decreasing the amount of water available to the body. Also, athletes currently taking antibiotics are more susceptible to heat illnesses, according to athleticadvisor.com.

Exercise intensity is a key determinant in heat injury in addition to the environment. During the first 5-7 days of pre-season conditioning and acclimation, the overall exercise intensity should be reduced. This can be accomplished with more frequent rest periods (and water breaks) and eliminating "all-out" efforts (e.g. suicide wind sprints and prolonged conditioning sets of high intensity) during the first few days of summer conditioning. Allowing more "teaching" time (preferably in cool, shaded areas) interspersed with conditioning drills will aid in keeping core temperatures from spiraling upward during practice, according to theacc.collegesports.com

Heat production is in large part, proportional to body weight.

According to athleticadivsor.com, athletes who are obese, or very large are more susceptible to heat stress because muscle tissue stores more water than fat tissue which only stores 10 percent.

There are three common types of heat injury, heat cramp, heat exhaustion and lastly, the most serious being heat strokes. In a report conducted by the American Academy of Pediatrics, if an athlete is complaining of cramps, contractions of the muscles in a specific part of the body, the treatment is to stop exercise and gently massage the involved muscles and drink lots of extra fluids. If an athlete is complaining of weakness and nausea, then they could be in the early stages of heat exhaustion. The athlete should stop whatever workout is going on, sit or lie down and cool down. According to st.vincent.org, fanning, cool towels and ice bags are good ways to reduce body heat to a reasonable level. It is also advised to give the athlete plenty of fluids. If their symptoms are not alleviated by the cooling methods, then emergency personnel should be called.

Athletes who are practice in extreme heat situations, where their body temperature raises above 107 degrees are more likely to be candidates for heat stroke. Symptoms for this life-threatening emergency are seizures, shock and or coma. Emergency personnel should be called immediately and athletes should be transported to the nearest hospital for care.

Athletes are advised to consider the recovery time between practices as preparation for the next practice. Coaches should emphasize to the athlete the importance of adequate rest during day. Proper recovery reduces the chance for injury.