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How to protect teenage athletes from heat stroke as sports practice begins in the heat of the summer

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(conversation) – High school sports practices have begun in many parts of the country as the heat of the summer continues. As temperatures rise, the risk of heat stroke increases for athletes, especially in the first few weeks of practice. We asked them to explain what coaches and players need to remember to keep us safe.

Why are athletes particularly vulnerable to heat during the first few weeks of training?

When athletes of all ages begin exercising or training in hot environments, their bodies need time to acclimate. In a natural outdoor environment, this is called heat acclimation.

The risk of heat stroke is highest during the first three days of heat exposure, as the body has not yet begun to adapt. Most acclimation occurs by her tenth day, but it takes about two weeks for the body to reach peak heat acclimation.

The most important change in the body is the expansion of plasma volume, which supplies more blood to the body to dissipate heat and supply working muscles. will be

The rate of sweating also increases, causing more heat to be dissipated from the body. The body increases salt retention. This is good because it improves electrolyte balance in the body to keep you hydrated and keep your muscles working optimally. It also lowers core body temperature, reducing the risk of exertional heat stroke.

However, even with all these adaptations, the body is still not completely protected from heatstroke, so other preventive strategies are needed.

Also, just because athletes train during the summer does not mean they are fully adapted to the heat under the conditions the sports season imposes. The sports season brings a new intensity of exercise, often with warmer temperatures than early summer, heavier equipment such as pads and helmets, and increased pressure to perform.

At what point do temperatures start to become dangerous for young athletes?

It varies across the country. Athletes living in temperate climates should not practice in environmental conditions above 86.2 degrees Fahrenheit (30.1 degrees Celsius) based on wet bulb global temperature. For people living in traditionally hot climates like Texas, the recommended cutoff temperature for canceling practice is 92 F (32.2 C).

Risks are related not only to temperature, but also to humidity, sun and wind. Humidity interferes with the evaporation of sweat, the body’s primary heat dissipation mechanism. Therefore, high humidity regardless of temperature raises concerns about thermal safety.

Athletic trainers often use the wet-bulb temperature, which takes into account all four of these variables, to determine when teams should shorten or cancel practices and how often rest and cooling breaks are necessary. To do. This is a better measure of risk than the heat index, which uses only temperature and humidity.

Anyone can check the predicted wet bulb global temperature for their area using the National Weather Service website.

How do you know when someone is suffering from heat stroke?

There are several symptoms that correspond to “heat stroke”, but the main ones are as follows.

  • Heat cramps, also called exercise-related muscle cramps, are caused by dehydration, loss of electrolytes, or fatigue of muscle groups. It’s easy to spot when a muscle group tightens and knots. Heat cramps can usually be treated with rest, stretching, and electrolyte hydration. If someone complains of cramps but the muscles are not stiff and tight to the touch, the person may be experiencing a sickle cell disease-related emergency called exertion sickle.
  • Heat stroke can occur when a person is dehydrated and exercises in warm conditions. Eventually, the body can no longer send enough blood to both the muscles and skin that work to dissipate heat. Prioritizing heat dissipation, you may fall or become unable to continue exercising. This should be treated by putting them in the shade or air conditioning, giving them something to drink, and cooling them down with fans and cold towels. If there is no immediate response, you may need to see a doctor.
  • Exertional heat stroke is a medical emergency in which a person’s body temperature exceeds 105 degrees Fahrenheit (40.6 degrees Celsius). Unfortunately, traditional thermometers such as oral and forehead thermometers cannot accurately measure body temperature in these situations. Exertional heat stroke should be suspected if a person changes personality, behaves strangely, or becomes confused while exercising in a warm environment. First responders should place the heat stroke victim in a cold-water immersion bath up to their shoulders, and keep the water as cool as possible with ice. Or must use any kind of immersion, such as bathing, EMS should be called immediately.

A key clue to all these heat strokes is that you’re sweating almost all the time. It’s a myth that people stop sweating. This rarely happens.

What do athletic trainers recommend to keep athletes safe in the heat, especially in the first few weeks?

Teams should follow the heat acclimatization guidance and gradually increase training session length and workout intensity. For example, a group of experts who have reviewed studies on youth sports recommend that training or practice sessions should always be less than two hours for him, and that for the first week he should only have one per day. Conditioning such as repetitive runs and timed drills should be done in air-conditioned areas or not integrated during his first two weeks.

In addition, teams should pay attention to the country’s local wet-bulb temperature table and avoid exercising during the hottest hours of the day (usually 10am-6pm).

The National Athletic Trainers Association also recommends: Use the “Weight Chart” to help athletes understand how much they need to drink to stay hydrated. Deploy an on-site athletic his trainer with therapeutic resources such as cold water tubs. Promotes good sleep and nutrition. Provides a safe work-to-rest ratio during conditioning and practice sessions. Breaks should be in the shade, ideally with cooling devices such as fans, misters, and cold towels. When a hard or strenuous drill is completed, players should similarly take long rests.

The buddy system is also a good deal. Having a companion increases the chance that someone will notice if an athlete isn’t feeling great or is starting to behave out of character, and should be stopped for evaluation.