Saturday, June 21, 2014

Care and Prevention of Heat Related Issues

Beware when you exercise in the heat!
  • Watch the temperature. Know your limits! I, for instance do not train in temperatures higher than 90 at the start of the ride. I know to avoid that because I have had issues in that temperature range in the past. I also use time of day which we will talk about more a little later, but for me starting a ride at 11:00 am just doesn't make any sense. Why risk the higher temperatures?!
  • Get acclimated. Your body requires time to adjust. If you are starting a program at the same time that you are also trying to get acclimatized that will also take longer. Plan on twenty-three days to get your body used to something. If you had already been training through April and May getting going won't be such an issue, but getting going in June will take you a little longer.
  • Know your fitness level. I use this to my advantage in later stages of training because then I can go and strain with people that are at a higher level of ability and training and gain from the effort required to workout with them. When working out at a higher level your body requires more of you, your muscles require better circulation, your body needs better cooling. So employ the best strategies and use the best equipment to facilitate the higher output.
  • Drink plenty of fluids. Hydrate before the event. No you can't store up nuts for the winter like a squirrel, but you can be less dehydrated. If you were exuberant in the festivities the night before an event chances are you will be less hydrated. If you're not peeing clear before the event you'll be in trouble during the event.
  • Dress appropriately. Nowadays, with high-tech fabrics and UV rated fabrics there's no excuse for wearing cotton and end up looking like a puddle at the end or during the event. Use sports specific clothing. You're better off if you wear what the athletes in your sport wear. Lighter colored fabrics do a lot to reflect the heat. UV rated fabrics although they seem hotter at first when the sun is blazing do their job very effectively. Dousing oneself with water also works to create a cooling effect.
  • Avoid midday sun. Also avoid the hottest part of the day. Midday sometimes is not the hottest. You have to be aware of when the hottest is in your area. Don't be fooled by a cloudy day, that midday sun going through a soaked cloud is magnified and will do even more damage to you and your skin and your inner-core temperature. 
  • Wear sunscreen. Some of the real potent sunscreens have a bit of menthol in it and actually produce a cooling effect when you wear it in the blazing sun. The only concern I have not yet solved is they tend to stain our fancy modern fabrics.
  • Have a backup plan. Make sure somebody knows where you are. With social media - leaving an app open with a route is really no big deal. They also have to know where to find you and how to get there. Also have a back-up on your back-up! I have a buddy with which I have made a deal, he can call me anytime for a rescue and I can call him anytime for a rescue :-) Sometimes, that's all you have!
  • Understand your medical risks. If you're taking medication that will dehydrate you, you need to beware. Talk to your doctor, inform him or her that you are an athlete and somethings will wreck havoc on your system when you are out training. Make sure when you get a new prescription for something serious that you test out your training. Recently, I was prescribed something that caused me to dehydrate. I could not do even thirty minutes of my regular routine. My doc asked me to try it for two weeks. I did for two weeks, and two weeks only. My doc is a runner, so he knew exactly what I was going through. He shrugged it off, "No big deal, let's try something else!" Love it!
  • When is it an emergency?! If you get clammy, and tingly you are playing with fire and it is time to stop to rehydrate. The fire here is heat-stress. If you are cramping, with a stomach-ache, a head-ache, blurred vision or tunnel vision, then stop immediately! This is full-blown heat-exhaustion and you will be in deep kimchee if you continue. Get out of the heat, hydrate if possible, and rest while whomever you called can come to get you hopefully bringing something to drink, clothes and recovery foods etc. If you were silly enough to continue which is in-advisable, then you are within minutes of suffering heat-stroke! Heat stroke can kill you! Heat-stroke can stop your heart. If you are in heat-stroke conditions then you need to go to emergency! I've seen someone in heat-stroke, and they were taken away on a stretcher. He survived, but was out of work for a week. He was heat stress prone from then on. Just like Northerners make preparations for blizzards, Southerners make preparations for the heat!

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