Drug Free Sport Staff Writers

Drug Free Sport Staff Writers

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Are you ready for the HEAT?

August is fast approaching and thousands of freshmen will be stepping on a college campus for their first time.  Football, volleyball, and soccer teams around the country will be preparing for a grueling season by initiating the dreaded, two-a-day practices.  Across the country student-athletes are hitting the weight room, running outside, and trying to find the next best thing to prepare for next season.  As a sports community lets pull together to make sure our teammates, friends, neighbors, coaches, etc… are prepared and educated for the summer off-season workouts and the ensuing fall preparation and games.
So what it’s hot… When it is hot outside you tend to sweat, and when it is humid outside you tend to sweat.  Those two paired together equals the air being saturated with water vapor, sweat won’t evaporate if the air is filled with water.  So it will probably fall to the ground before it has a chance to cool the skin.  The body doesn’t get any cooler, and as a result the body continues sweating. Obviously the hotter and more humid the weather, the more sweaty you get and hence the potential for dehydration and other heat related illnesses.
Prevention is better than treatment – Heat stroke can be fatal.  You can go from heat exhaustion to potentially fatal heatstroke in minutes.  So let’s get prepared, Hydration is the first step to being prepared, but having an understanding of your body and how it responds to the heat is just as important.
·         Allow the body time to adjust to the hot and humid conditions.  Try ramping up by training in hot, humid conditions.  Arriving 7-10 days prior to practice in the conditions can be helpful as well.
·         Understand your body’s sweat response and practice drinking strategies while training.  Develop a plan for yourself and stick to it. 
·         Begin practice or games well-hydrated and start drinking early.  Smaller amounts of fluid more often are likely to better maintain your hydration status verses long periods with no fluids.
·         Water may not be enough in some situations, so try mixing in sports drinks in hot and humid conditions to help replace electrolytes. 
·         The loss of water and electrolytes from the body has a few negatives but most notable is the decrease in blood volume and resultant reduction in oxgen transport resources.  So are you hydrated?  Check here.
Those who have a prior history of heat illness, have other underlying illnesses (such as diabetes), and who take certain medications (including antihistamines and Ritalin), are at higher risk.  Signs of heat related illness:
·         Heavy sweating
·         Paleness
·         Muscle cramps
·         Tiredness
·         Weakness
·         Dizziness
·         Headache
·         Nausea and vomiting
·         Fainting
·         Fast, weak pulse
·         Fast, shallow breathing
·         Athletes who show any of these symptoms should stop working out or be forced to stop working out or practice immediately
·         Take them inside or to a shady place and given cool drinks
·         If the athlete begins to exhibit changes in thought processes or behavior, call 911 immediately

Long story short you are better off leaving them alone, but especially products sold as weight loss products.  Weight loss products typically have several sources of stimulants included in the product.  Stimulants often speed metabolism, heart rate, and blood pressure; the increased activity in the body produces extra heat (especially in hot and humid conditions). Under these conditions the blood vessels in the skin constrict, preventing the body from cooling itself efficiently.
Ultimately, heat illnesses are preventable injuries. Consequently, it is the responsibility of those caring for athletes, the parents, coaches, trainers, and team doctors, to ensure that athletes are educated in preventative strategies and are properly monitored during training or competition in the heat.

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