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High School Sports and Heat Exhaustion

Hi everyone! Dr, Myra Here. Aside from my time here at Healthworks, I also coach high school soccer. I want to share with you today about my experience with high school athletes and give you 4 tips on preventing heat exhaustion.

First of all, let's define what is heat exhaustion is—it is a condition in which the body temperature starts to rise in response to an excessive loss of water and salt in your sweat. Symptoms may include muscle cramps, feeling lightheaded or dizzy, and rapid pulse.

The most prevalent time I’ve seen heat exhaustion with high school athletes are during the first 1-2 weeks of practice or pre-season conditioning. Why? Because many of them have not been acclimated or properly prepared to handle exercising in the heat. An athlete can be physically fit but if he or she has not been training outdoors for an extended about of time in the heat, they still will be susceptible to heat exhaustion.

Here are 4 tips on how to acclimate your kid properly:

  1. Gradually introduce them to exercising in the heat. Do 20-30 minutes of exercise outdoor for the first few days and gradually increase the time outdoors in a 1-2 weeks span.

  2. Always allow for frequent breaks every 15-20 minutes for athletes to retreat to a shady area and intake fluids such as sports drinks to replenish lost electrolytes through sweat.

  3. Make sure they wear loose-fitting and breathable clothes when exercising outdoors. Sometimes, it is unavoidable during football, as pads and helmets can increase the risk of heat exhaustion. Limit pads and helmets for the first few days or first week as the athlete is acclimating and then gradually introduce the gear

  4. Lastly, weigh you kid prior to outdoor activity and weighing them after. The difference is the amount lost in water weight through sweat. This will give you a better idea for next practice how much fluid they should consume during the activity

Hope these tips were helpful for your kids and stay tuned next week to read about my tips on sports hydration.

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