SAN ANTONIO – Heat illness during athletic practice or games is a leading cause of death and disability among high school athletes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The analysis conducted by the CDC says football was the sport associated with the most heat-related illnesses, and August was the most common month for them to occur.
Health experts advise acclimating to the heat before starting any rigorous sports training.
“There’s something called acclimatization so that you can prepare for the heat if you know you’re going to go into something like two-a-days for football,” said Dr. Stephen Moore.
Moore, an associate professor of emergency medicine at UT Health San Antonio, said acclimate gradually, especially if you’re not used to exercising in hot weather. He recommends walking and then jogging, especially if you’ve spent more time inside during the summer.
Davis Conley, director of strength and conditioning At the University of the Incarnate Word, said UIW’s athletes have been doing just that, gradually adjusting to the summer heat by starting their training in the morning.
“So just make sure we don’t throw them right into the fire. You know, the old saying is ‘Once bread becomes toast, it can never be bread again,’” said Conley.
He said the same adjustments to the hotter temperatures should be applied for all sports and all athletes of any age.
“The biggest thing — the people in charge of the kids have to be the smartest ones in the room. You can’t go out on day one and hammer a two-hour practice event. It should almost look easy in the beginning, and there’s a fine line between trying to develop a tough team and just being dumb,” said Conley.
He said high school athletes should also monitor their recovery while training in the heat, ensuring they get enough salt and food and keep an eye on the scale.
“That way, we aren’t having guys with any loss from day to day. So what you weighed in the morning is what we’re going to make sure you weigh in that night, and that way, we know at least we’re doing the best we can to prepare them for both injuries and then to a hydration point,” said Conley.