Life-threatening circumstances are fortunately uncommon in athletics. But nothing is quite tragic than the deaths that happen every year because of heat stroke, most typically on early-season football training. They’re entirely preventable and utterly uncalled for.
The loss of much needed body heat happens when the environmental temperature is lower than the body temperature. The major route of heat loss throughout exercise is via heat evaporation of sweat from the skin. The athlete can, generate considerable body heat during exercise and he needs to scatter that heat to keep normal body temperature. Sweat evaporation by the skin surfaces is the essential cooling process.
If the humidity is a bit high, and sweat just falls to the ground and does not evaporate, its cooling effects lost. Some factors can also hinder the sweat-cooling procedure: too much clothing, intervening with the evaporation of sweat; a layer of fat underneath the skin of the obese athlete, which insulates and therefore helps retain body heat; or insufficient supply of body water for sweating.
It’s apparent that an adequate supply of water is the most crucial factor in forbidding heat stroke. It’s easy to identify those who are at biggest risk: they’re the athletes in hapless condition, who are not acclimatized to hot temperatures and who are tending to be obese, having thick layers of insulating body fat. The risk is tremendously increased if a full uniform covers much of the skin surface.
The universal guidelines for prevention of heat stroke can’t be echoed too often:
1. Be aware about the degree of general conditioning prior to trying exercise in hot weather.
2. Abide by a well-devised plan of progressive exercise and rest when getting acclimatized.
3. Keep as much skin exposure as possible. During track and field events, contention without shirts can be helpful. In a football game, early drills using shorts and t-shirts, and later drills and competition with knit jerseys with open abdominal areas and no stockings, might all be advisable.
4. In early football drills, humidity and temperature could reach levels which are dangerous for any strenuous exercise. When having measured humidity that is more than ninety percent and temperatures of 84°F. or higher, practices must be deferred.
5. Every athlete must start their practice or competition well hydrated and be mindful to replace fluid losses using a combination of clear water and diluted saline beverages, served at cool temperatures (50 to 55°F.). Any athlete who experiences a persisting weight deficit of more than 2 or 3 pounds from a workout must be considered as a high risk and exempted from practice.
6. When heat stroke occurs, strip down the victim and cool the body with any available method: a bucket of ice water, a hose, or a cold shower. Bring the patient to a hospital at once.
Shephard, Roy J., and P. Åstrand. “Environmental Aspects .” Endurance in sport: the encyclopaedia of sports medicine. Oxford: Blackwell Scientific, 1992. 596. Print.
Schenck, Robert C.. “Environmental Injuries.” Athletic training and sports medicine . 3. ed. Rosemont: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, 1999. 637. Print.
Read, Malcolm T. F.. Concise guide to sports injuries . 2nd ed. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone/Elsevier, 2008. Print.
© 2011 Athena Goodlight