Heat & Hydration

The Challenges of exercising in the heat.

KEY POINTS

  • During exercise, the muscles produce heat. This heat must be dissipated, otherwise the body runs the risk of “overheating”. Overheating can result in serious, potentially life-threatening injuries
  • Sweating is one of the heat-dissipating mechanisms of the body. When sweat evaporates, it cools off the body.
  • High temperatures and high humidity make it hard for the body to dissipate heat; heavy sweating occurs, but the water lost does not help to cool off the body. Under these conditions, players run the risk of overheating
  • Thirst is not a good indicator of a need for water. In fact, dehydration has already started if a participant feels thirsty.
  • Players need to drink fluids before they are thirsty. Encourage your players to be hydrated through the week leading up to practices and games.
  • Young players run a higher risk of overheating when exercising in the heat because their sweating mechanism is not fully developed.

If the humidex is above 30°C, in particular if it exceeds 35°C,

  • Tell players to bring extra water and ensure there will be access to water during the practice or competition. Also bring extra water in case someone forgets their personal water bottle.
  • Plan for low-intensity activities
  • Plan for shorter practices, with frequent and longer pauses that include water breaks
  • Schedule practices early in the morning or during the evening
  • Consider changing the location to a shaded area

The Challenges of exercising in the cold

KEY POINTS

  • During exercise in a cold environment, the skin can become wet as a result of sweating or exposure to rain or snow. A wet skin surface cools the body faster than when it is dry
  • Wind magnifies the perception of cold and increases the rate at which the body loses heat.
  • Skin can freeze when exposed to very cold temperatures and when this happens circulation slows. Tissue can be damaged if frostbite is prolonged and extensive. Extremities (e.g. toes, fingers, nose, ears) are particularly at risk in cold temperatures, because the body shunts blood flow to central organs and tissues to maintain the body’s core temperature.
  • Muscles and other soft tissue that are cold are more susceptible to injuries such as pulls and tears, in particular if the efforts produced are sudden and intense.
  • Young players get cold much faster than adults, and their skin is more prone to freeze.
  • In cold environments, water vapour lost through breathing and evaporation of sweat from exposed surfaces may lead to dehydration. Encourage your players to drink fluids.

Cold prevention tips

  • Remaining dry is key as moisture will reduce the insulating properties of almost every fabric. Clothing should be worn in layers and should be kept as dry as possible.
  • Several layers of lighter clothing instead of one heavy layer are optimal. Wool is better than cotton with respect to insulation.

Lightning is the most frequent severe storm hazard encountered in football. Most lightning casualties occur through the months of May and September.

Lightning Safety Tips

  • Establish an action plan for all in involved.
  • Designate a responsible person to monitor the weather.
  • Have a means of monitoring local weather forecasts and warnings i.e. Environment Canada, radio, T.V….
  • Monitoring should begin in appropriate amount of time before the event.
  • Watch the sky for dark, heavy clouds on a warm and or humid spring and summer day.
  • Be aware that lightning may strike several kilometers from the storm.
  • Avoid power lines, tall objects, high places and water.
  • Take appropriate shelter when you count 30 seconds or fewer between lightning and thunder.
  • Safe shelter includes inhabited buildings and fully enclosed vehicles.
  • If in a vehicle it is important not to touch any part of the metal framework during ongoing thunderstorms.
  • If caught in an open, level field, don’t lie flat, but crouch on the ground, with feet together placing the hands on the knees and bending forward.
  • Avoid grouping of players.
  • Keep a cell phone for emergencies.
  • Have an accessible first aid kit.
  • Remain sheltered for 30 minutes after the last thunder or lightning flash prior to resuming an activity.

This post is also available in: French