Did you know that heat illnesses among young athletes occur most often between August and October? Cook Children's sports medicine specialist Dr. Krystle Farmer explains why and shares important tips to prevent exertional heat illness during practice and sports events.
Meet the speaker
My name is Krystle Farmer and I'm one of the sports medicine physicians here at Cook Children's and today I wanted to talk to you a little bit about exercising in the heat. This is a very important topic, especially here in Texas where temperatures often exceed 100 degrees during the summertime.
Exertional heat illness is most common during the months of August to October, with August being the highest incidence. And most of our high risk athletes are patients who are participating in sports for more than three hours at a time. Even practices over two hours tend to see higher incidence of heat illness. The sports where we see this the most are football and running.
The best approach to addressing exertional heat illness is prevention. And one of the most important things that we can teach our athletes to do is called acclimatization, which means that we progressively introduce higher intensity and longer workouts in a hot or humid environment so that they can acclimate to those conditions. Usually, we recommend the first five days of practice not exceed three hours in duration to help them to adjust to the conditions.
Hydration prior to workouts is also extremely important. And some different techniques that we can use are always encouraging kids to drink when they feel thirsty, drink to where their urine is a clear to very light yellow color, and for some higher level athletes, you can also utilize hydration to pre-participation weight.
Some other things that you can do when exercising in the heat are to maximize shade, so utilizing trees or tent coverage, taking frequent hydration breaks and also wearing lighter clothing when possible. And I know it's not always feasible but in Texas if we can avoid holding practices or workout sessions during the hottest part of the day, that is very helpful. The hottest temperatures tend to occur between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m.
If you have additional questions about this topic, please be sure to check out our additional resources and links at cookhildrens.org.