Heat Illness Prevention
illness is one possible and very
dangerous sports injury during the summer months. During
the summer months, a lot of time is spent outdoors. Some of that time
is bound to be playing sports.
athletes, summer is the prime time to get back into that sports
activity that was neglected during the winter months. Cycling, tennis,
golf, softball, soccer...you name it, most sports are better in the
With the summer heat comes an increased
need to keep your body healthy and avoid the pitfalls of being out in
the sun. Here are just a few tips to help you beat the heat, prevent
heat illness, and stay off the sidelines.
Water, Who Needs Water?
Water in the summer is
usually thought of in the pool, or at the beach...mayb even running
through the hose in the backyard. Drinking water is the most important
tip to help beat the heat during summer sports activities. Proper
hydration is extremely important for the health of your muscles, and to
keep yourself in top form. It is also the first line of defense against
While hydration is important year
round, during the summer months when you are more likely to sweat a lot
more, it is vital to make sure that you are drinking enough fluids.
sure that you drink several glasses of water a day, even on days when
you are not participating in your activity. If you know that you are
going to be playing out in the sun for several hours, increase your
fluid intake the night before, and continue to drink up to the event.
Then, take in small amounts of water throughout your game or practice.
helps to avoid caffinated beverages prior to activity. Sports drinks
such as Gatorade or Powerade are great to help replenish electrolytes
after activity, but just plain water is the most important both prior
to and during your outside adventures.
to the Heat
Obviously, if you haven't been out in
the sun and heat much, your body isn't going to be used to it. You are
much more susceptible to heat illness when you aren't used to the
climate. Start out slow and gradually increase your outside activities.
If you can, plan your games and events in the early or late hours, when
the sun is not at its hottest. Activities between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm
are going to have the most heat illness problems.
especially for those all day events, is important, not only for
athletes, but for spectators as well. Do yourself a favor and keep your
skin healthy. Avoid getting burned and put on a sunscreen of SPF 15-45,
depending on your type of skin. Don't forget to re-apply throughout the
day, especially if you are sweating a lot, or if you are in the water.
There are several signs of heat illness
that you should be aware of. The first sign that you may be dehydrated
or starting to suffer from the heat is muscle cramps. This is
especially true if you are playing a sport. You may suffer cramps in
the calf, hamstrings, feet, or hands.
the body's way of telling you that you haven't had enough to drink. As
you sweat away your fluids, the balance of electrolytes and water in
the muscles is skewed, and your muscles start to contract
You can eat all the bananas you
want, but the primary problem is that you haven't had enough water.
Once you start cramping, you should stop playing for the day, get
cooled off, and start replenishing those fluids.
you are a very salty sweater, you may need to alter your salt intake.
This doesn't mean breaking out salt tablets, it simply means eating a
small bag of chips, or lightly salting your food regularly. This is
only adviseable when you are properly hydrating and still having
problems with muscle cramping.
weakness, and fatigue are also signs of beginning heat illness. These
signs often point towards heat exhaustion. Heat exhaustion is a fluid
problem as well.
The body looses fluid due to
sweating, and the total volume of fluid in the body is depleted enough
to prevent normal function. Blood pressure may drop due to decreased
volume, and this causes many of these symptoms.
you feel any of these things, it is imperative that you get somewhere
cool, rest, and drink lots of water. You need to bring your fluid level
back up in order to return to normal. Stop your outdoor activity, and
get inside where it is cool...it will only get worse if you don't.
Summer is a great time to enjoy outdoor
sports and activities. Make sure you stay hydrated, wear that
sunscreen, and keep yourself off the sidelines by preventing heat
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