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Taking the Heat: Avoid Sports-Related Heat Injuries

by Daniel on November 24th, 2011

Heat injuries are common in summer and early fall sporting events. Heat and humidity are the critical elements involved in these types of injuries. As you get hot and begin to sweat, the evaporation of sweat from the skin cools the blood and body. When the humidity rises, it becomes more difficult for the sweat to evaporate and for the body to dissipate heat.

Problems can also arise when you don’t drink enough fluid to make the sweat you need. Without proper precautions, your core body temperature can rise to dangerous levels, which can result in heat cramps, heat exhaustion, heat stroke and even death.

But, if you treat hot weather exercise with respect, you can avoid problems.
Know the Warning Signs
Heat cramps are usually the first sign of trouble. The warning signs of heat stroke usually occur after a hard workout and may include cramps, spasms, and twitching in the leg, arm and abdominal muscles.

To relieve heat cramps, stop exercising and get out of the heat. Massage the painful area, stretch slowly and drink plenty of fluids.

Ignoring heat cramps can lead to heat exhaustion, which causes you to feel dizzy, weak, faint, cold and clammy. Pushing yourself even further may finally result in heat stroke. Heat stroke is a medical emergency and may cause death.

Heat stroke symptoms include:
disorientation
no sweating
vomiting
unconsciousness
high body temperature
Heat Injury Prevention
Drink before, during and after a workout whether you are thirsty or not. Here are a few guidelines:
Drink one-half to one full glass of water every 15 minutes during strenuous exercise on a hot day.

Drink at least six to eight glasses of water a day.

Cold water is usually the best drink during warm weather exercise.

Sports drinks, colas and juices all contain sugar and the body may not absorb them as quickly.
Your first few weeks in the heat are the most dangerous.

When the weather begins to get warm:
Cut back your exercise routine by about 25 percent and slowly build back up to your previous level in a week or so.

Exercise during the coolest times of the day — before 10 a.m. or after 6 p.m.

Make your workouts easier on particularly hot or humid days.

Wear light-colored clothing made of a natural fiber, such as cotton. Light-colored clothing reflects sunlight while dark clothing often absorbs and increases heat.

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