The summer and fall in Texas bring the beginning of football and cross
country seasons as well as a myriad of outdoor activities. Due to he soaring
temperatures and high humidity it is important to not only practice safe heat
habits but acclimatize oneself to the heat.
When air temperature is 95ºF or greater, all bodily heat loss occurs via
evaporation. When the humidity is over 75%, evaporation slows and sweating
becomes very inefficient. Finally, when these two conditions occur
together, temperature and humidity respectively above 95ºF and 75%, bodily heat
loss diminishes to near zero. Sweat will not evaporate to facilitate the
cooling process. In addition to the normal heal illness prevention
methods, the following are some other consideration that can be addressed to
help minimize problems with the heat and your teams this fall.
- Encourage your players to discontinue any creatine use for 2-4 weeks at
the beginning of outdoor activity. Creatine appears to increase water
uptake by the muscle cells, decreasing the amount of water available to the
body for cooling purposes.
- Athletes taking certain antibiotics (tetracycline, Cipro®, Floxin®,
etc.) may be more susceptible to heat illness. Ask the player to
contact their physician regarding their medication use during strenuous
activity in the head and the drug's affect on the body.
- Allow your athletes to change T-Shirts during practice.
clothing significantly reduces the body's ability to cool itself through
perspiration. Wear light weight, porous and loose-fitting clothing to
promote heat loss.
- Allow football players to remove their helmets periodically.
The body is able to cool itself more efficiently when the head is
exposed. A football helmet causes the retention of significant amounts
- Instruct your athletes to drink fluids after practice until their
urine is clear and nearly odorless. Their body weight should also return to
nearly the same as prior to practice. These methods will ensure proper
hydration for the following practice. Heat illness is cumulative with
multiple practice sessions and days.
- Observe obese and very large players for early signs of heat
stress. Muscle tissue store more water (7-7 - 80%) than does fat tissue
(10%). Heat production is proportional to body weight.
- Instruct all athletes to pre-hydrate. Prepare the body for
the head by drinking at least 24 ounces of fluid prior to each workout.
- Fluid consumption during activity is ideally 10 - 12 ounces every 30
minutes. When a athlete finally decides he/she is thirsty, they
are already a quart low! Thirst is not an indicator of dehydration.
- Sports drinks such as Gatorade® or PowerAde® have been proven to
be better than plain water as a fluid replacement. Water
prematurely turns thirst off and turns the kidney on. This means
you don't want to drink and the kidneys are processing water out sooner than
whey you consume a sports drink. Carbonated drinks decrease the amount
of fluids that can be absorbed by the body. Alcohol and caffeine act
as diuretics, increasing the fluid loss through increased urination.
- Athletes should gradually acclimatize themselves to the increasing
heat and humidity. This is accomplished by gradually increasing time
and intensity in the hotter environment. Acclimatization may take 5
days to several weeks depending upon each individual's cardiovascular,
neural and hormonal makeup.