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On The Fence

Bobby Leach "The Rooster" | 8/11/2015, 11:29 a.m.
With prep and collegiate athletes hitting the practice fields in preparation of the 2015 fall sport season, every athlete is ...
Bobby Leach

With prep and collegiate athletes hitting the practice fields in preparation of the 2015 fall sport season, every athlete is being conditioned for the grind and each will be giving their best in hopes of earning a starting role. That said, there is the temptation to play through pains and to have a "suck it up" attitude which can be a recipe for disaster.

Traditionally the month of August is the hottest point of the summer and with rising temperatures and humidity levels, the strain put on physical activity magnified and thus more dangerous if common sense prevention is not adhered to. Very serious illnesses can effect an athletes health.

Heat cramps are severe cramping of the skeletal muscles, particularly those most heavily used during exercise. Heat cramps are treated by moving the individual to a cooler location and administering fluids or a saline solution. Heat exhaustion, accompanied by such symptoms as fatigue, dizziness, and vomiting, is caused by the body’s cardiovascular system not meeting the body’s needs; heat exhaustion typically occurs when your blood volume decreases, by either excessive fluid loss or mineral loss from sweating. The most dangerous type of heat illness, heat stroke is characterized by a rise in internal body temperature, cessation of sweating, hot and dry skin, rapid pulse and respiration, high blood pressure, confusion, and unconsciousness. In addition to immediately contacting medical personnel, individuals can treat heat stroke by cooling the person’s body in a bath of water or ice or wrapping the body in a wet sheet and fanning the victim.

Although deaths from heat illness are rare, constant surveillance and education are necessary in order to maintain the safety and health of student-athletes. Prevention of heat illness begins with aerobic conditioning, which provides partial acclimatization to the heat. In order to achieve heat acclimatization, athletes should gradually increase their exposure to hot and/or humid environmental conditions over a period of 10 to 14 days. Hydration should be maintained during training and acclimatization. Clothing and protective gear can increase heat stress. Frequent rest periods should be scheduled so that the gear and clothing can be loosened to allow heat loss.

During the acclimatization period, it may be advisable to use a minimum of protective gear and clothing and to practice in T-shirts, shorts, socks, and shoes. Dehydration must be avoided. Fluid replacement must be readily available. Athletes are encouraged to drink as much and as frequently as comfort allows. Bottom line is stay hydrated while giving your best this pre-season and when your body says quit...listen to it. Stay safe out there!