Health First Certified Athletic Trainers are well versed in safe summer workouts
Tough temperatures can be unbearable, but no need to worry. Health First’s certified experts offer recommendations to shield student-athletes (and anyone) from heat stroke.
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – We’ve all tried it to “beat the heat” during the sweltering days of summer. And sometimes, it’s not easy to do. Especially with large swaths of the country being hit hard with punishingly tough temperatures.
But think about student-athletes. There’s no break from the heat as they train for the upcoming fall and winter sports seasons.
Health First Certified Athletic Trainers Christine Clancy and Katherine Kass are well versed in safe summer workouts. Clancy works with Melbourne High School athletes. Kass is hands-on at Cocoa Beach High School.
Here are three things parents and coaches should be mindful of, helping to keep our young athletes safe.
1.) Maintain hydration. Water. Water. And more water. “It’s important to keep our bodies hydrated to help prevent heat illnesses and perform at a high level while getting the most out of the summer workouts,” said Kass.
“Keep in mind, hydration shouldn’t be only during the workout. It’s best to hydrate before and after, too, to maintain a healthy level of fluid intake.” If you’re not quite sure how much is enough, remember this general rule – drink 8 ounces of water (or a sports drink) every 20 minutes when exposed to heat.
2.) Watch for heat stroke symptoms. One of the summer’s greatest health risks is heat stroke. It can be a life-threatening emergency, so if someone’s showing signs, it’s critical they’re treated ASAP.
Here’s what to look for:
■ Exercise-induced muscle cramps
■ Passing out in the heat (syncope)
■ Heat exhaustion
■ Exertional heat injury. (A progressive multisystem disorder with hyperthermia, following vigorous activity that is associated with end-organ damage – such as the kidney, liver or muscles – in the absence of significant neurologic injury.)
■ Exertional heat stroke. (A medical emergency that can be life-threatening. Body temps exceed 105 degrees, hyperthermia, and the central nervous system experiences dysfunction.)
“As athletic trainers, we often see exercise-associated muscle cramps,” Clancy said. “Educating our student-athletes about maintaining a balanced diet, replacing fluids, and communicating with the staff about when they need to take a break is of utmost importance in preventing heat illnesses.”
Clancy noted there’s always an ice bath ready in a shaded area for these student athletes, in case they’re showing signs of heat stroke. A dip in the icy water can quickly reduce body temperature – a potential life-saver.
3.) Relax and recharge. We know – every coach and player want to perform at their best. It’s important to train – but not to the point where the summer heat steals every ounce of strength and energy. Thankfully, the Florida High School Athletic Association has rules and procedures in place to reduce the risk, which are crucial for coaches to follow.
That means not pushing too hard or too fast. And being aware if an athlete has prior health issues that might affect them, such as recent past fevers, sickle cell disease and more. All students need to be afforded an acclimatization period, especially those who recently moved to Florida from other climate zones and/or states, Kass said. These are all important measures to allow these students to continue playing their favorite sport.
“We strive to keep everyone safe and healthy during every season, no matter the sport,” Clancy said. “It’s a goal we take great pride in and are always ready to adjust, adapt and assist to prevent any serious injuries or health concerns.”