IT’S GETTIN’ HOT OUT HERE – HEAT INJURY
by Luke Anderson, physiotherapist at Sydney West Sports Medicine
Nobody likes exercising in the heat of summer. It’s hot, it’s sweaty, it’s humid, it sucks. But with summer sports hitting full swing and NAB RunWest being held in March, being able to train and play at your best in hot conditions is essential especially if you’re aiming to improve your performance through the summer months. But training in extreme temperatures is not without its own risks.
At the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games earlier this year, you may remember the terrible footage of marathon runner Callum Hawkins collapsing with 2km to go, confused and unable to get up and continue and this year at the London marathon heat stroke claimed the life of one runner. In Australia, we experience the extremes of hot weather and so we need to know how to prevent these things happening.
Heat injury is a term used to cover a spectrum of conditions that are caused by the effects of heat. These can range from simple heat cramps through to life threatening heat stroke. So it’s important to know how you can avoid or reduce your risk of heat injury and just as important to be aware of the types of heat injury so that you know what to do if you think yourself or someone around you is suffering from heat-related injury.
Exercise causes an increase in your body temperature which the body then manages through sweating and sending blood to the surface of the skin. Exercising in hot and humid environments is going to make this even harder for your body so we should be making it as easy as possible for it to keep us cool.
What can happen with poorly managed exercise in hot conditions and what to do:
|Heat Cramps||Loss of electrolytes||Cramping in arms, legs or stomach after prolonged exercise.||Stop, stretch, drink and replace your salts
|Heat Syncope||Recently commencing heavy exercise||Fainting, fatigue and weakness||Stop, re-hydrate, replace salts and reduce training intensity in future sessions.|
|Heat Exhaustion||Salt and/or water depletion||Body temperature <40 degrees C, fainting, fatigue, weakness, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, cramping, confusion||Stop, move the athlete into shade, give fluids and electrolytes if conscious, cool the athlete by removing excess clothing, ice packs, fan, ice towels etc. Refer to a doctor if loses consciousness or vomiting.|
|Heat Stroke||Severe dehydration and/or salt depletion||Body temperature >40 degrees C, nausea, seizures, confusion, loss of consciousness.||Medical Emergency: Call an ambulance and monitor body temperature whilst start active cooling techniques like cold water immersion, ice packs and removing excess clothing.|
Summer is not a reason to not exercise, but we need to be smart about how we do it, when we do it and what we do!
9 HOT TIPS ON HOW TO EXERCISE SAFELY IN SUMMER:
Get your summer sweat on!