HealthTrainingIt’s Still Summer, So Drink Up: Beat the Heat Tips

Brainspiral BrainspiralSeptember 1, 2015
U.S. Nordic Combined skier Taylor Fletcher leads a pack up a city street in Oberwiesenthal, Germany, during the Summer Grand Prix last weekend. (FIS-Sandra Volk)
U.S. Nordic Combined skier Taylor Fletcher during a summer competition in Oberwiesenthal, Germany. Fletcher is seen leading a pack up a city street during the Summer Grand Prix last weekend. (Photo: FIS-Sandra Volk)

We’re officially into September, but that doesn’t mean we’re necessarily there with fall weather. As your workouts intensify in anticipation of the winter ahead, keep in mind that it’s important to stay hydrated — and the days can still reach very warm and potentially dangerous temperatures. The following was extracted from a 2011 “Skis, Strains and Sprains” post by Annika Ferber, an athletic trainer, and physical therapist from Minneapolis. Read the original, “How to Beat the Heat,” here.

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Use your common sense with hot and humid weather. You know you’re going to sweat right? Well then drink before practice/training, and BRING YOUR WATER BELT. Of all the equipment I have, the water belt is the most essential. Seeing young skiers without them is scary because dehydration and heat illnesses can easily be prevented if water is readily available.

How do you know if you’re hydrated? Check your pee! I’m sure we have all heard this before, but lemonade colored is ideal for being hydrated. Hydrating itself is important as well. Don’t chug your Nalgene 10 minutes before the workout. Drink about 20 oz of water 3 hours before the workout, and then about 20 minutes from the start of your workout drink another quick 10 oz.

During exercise, if you begin to feel thirsty you are reaching dehydration. Replenishing fluids lost after a workout is essential too. Mild dehydration means that normal body weight will drop 2 percent. For example, if you weigh yourself before a workout and you’re a lean 150 lbs, and after the workout you are 147, you are dehydrated. Again, the best thing is to be smart about water.

Don’t forget about sports drinks too! They often do a better job hydrating and rehydrating the body when used properly. They replace the carbohydrates, sodium, and potassium often lost through sweat.

Types of Heat Disorders and how to Prevent them:

– Heat Cramps: Sweating heavily and working hard causes an imbalance between water and electrolytes, the athlete will most likely experience muscle twitching and cramps in their calves and abdominals, or other muscles. If heat cramps occur, it’s key to rehydrate. Also mild stretching with some ice massage can help relieve the pain from the cramps. To prevent heat cramps, make sure you’re acclimated to the environment and properly hydrated.

– Heat Exhaustion: Heat exhaustion can be detected by pale skin, loss of coordination, excessive thirst, fatigue, weakness, mental dullness, and an elevated body temperature up to 104⁰F. The best indicator that an athlete isn’t on their way to having a heatstroke is temperature. The only accurate way to test for this is to take a rectal temperature; taking the temperature anywhere else won’t be as accurate. Quickly remove the athlete from the heat, and begin rehydrating and lowering core body temperature. Continue to monitor the athlete, and if their condition doesn’t significantly improve, transportation to a hospital may be needed.

– Heatstroke: Heatstroke is a life-threatening emergency. The elevated body temperature can lead to tissue damage and central nervous system dysfunction. Many symptoms can occur: altered levels of consciousness, confusion, irrational behavior, rectal temperature above 104⁰F, flushed/hot skin, shallow/fast breathing, rapid/strong pulse, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, decreased blood pressure, and dehydration. If the athlete’s body temperature can be lowered quickly, the risk of death decreases significantly. The best plan would be to strip the athlete, and immerse in a cold bath or sponge down with cold water and a fan. If possible, try to lower the body temperature at least 4 degrees before transport to a hospital. Only attempt rapid cooling if adequate medical supervision is available, otherwise transport to a hospital quickly. After recovery, an athlete should avoid exercise, be asymptomatic, and be cleared by a doctor before returning.

Summer can be the best time of the year, and we can often forget the dangers associated with training in the heat. The best advice is to use common sense before going out and training. Stay hydrated and stay smart.

Information and recommendations taken from ‘Principles of Athletic Training,’ 13th edition by William Prentice.

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