Things are heating up at Franciscan, and it’s not just the intensity and increase of games. It’s the temperature of heat that rises off of the turf field and slowly bakes our athletes through their cleats.
Spring is upon us, and so are 80-degree temperatures. We find ourselves not only sneezing and coughing thanks to the fresh pollen, but feeling the sweat drip down our back 10 minutes into practice.
As an athlete, you find yourself no longer stuffing three layers of clothing under your jersey. Instead, you find yourself figuring out the least amount of clothing you can put on before practice without your coach yelling at you. You see, we’re too professional for shirts and skins.
Many of the sports that had their seasons canceled last fall are up and playing this spring. Instead of transitioning from hot to cold, they find themselves going from freezing temperatures to intense heat.
With the weather quickly getting warmer, our athletes need to exercise caution. Two things can happen while playing sports in the heat: increased body temperature and dehydration.
Increased body temperature, or hyperthermia, can lead to decreased muscle endurance. This means our muscles have a harder time contracting over long periods of time and start to cramp. This is a reminder to not push yourself while under the hot sun but let your muscles rest and take short breaks.
During the 2014 NBA Finals in San Antonio, the air conditioning went out in the arena, which caused the temperature to go up to almost 90 degrees. Miami Heat star LeBron James had to leave the game in the fourth quarter due to cramping muscles that didn’t allow him to play.
Dehydration is something most student athletes are familiar with. Dehydration almost always sets in earlier than most athletes realize and before cramps set in. According to Intermountain Healthcare, “Athletes can lose as much as 2-8% of their body weight during high intensity exercise, and the rate of fluid absorption from the gut just can’t keep up with that rate of loss.”
What can be done to combat increased body temperature and dehydration? Well, surprisingly, one way is to keep playing in the heat. Our bodies can acclimate to the heat in as short a time as seven to nine days, and we become used to the higher temperatures and play well in it.
Building up to the start of one of the World Cups, soccer teams were traveling to places with higher temperatures and humidity to train and prepare for their games.
Another way is through conditioning, as athletes with good conditioning have a higher blood volume and have less performance loss in the heat. Staying active and strong will help your body withstand the hot sun.
Of course, you cannot forget the biggest tip for playing sports in the heat: drink water. Just do it. Drink all of it. Take lots of water breaks and avoid that dehydration.
Even though we’re in Ohio and it isn’t out of the question that we have a blizzard tomorrow, the warmer season has arrived and walking out of practice dripping with sweat is now the new norm. Stay safe and, as always, drink your water!