Medical group warns coaches about heat-related illnesses

August 8, 2012

Topic: Injury prevention

In the summer, athletic practice should not be held between noon and 4 p.m.

One of the most prominent injury prevention worries for the upcoming season of school athletics concerns heat-related illnesses. Such hazards are not just a worry for football players, but for any athlete that needs to practice outdoors in the extreme heat and humidity of mid-summer.

"Long gone are the days of overworking athletes, refusing players water or using heat as a strategy to 'toughen up' a young player. Unless the coach wants an injured or collapsed athlete - or worse - on the field, it's just not acceptable," said Michael Bergeron, Ph.D., a fellow with the American College of Sports Medicine.

General guidelines for coaches say that practice should not be held between noon and 4 p.m. If the combined effects of heat and humidity are too much, practice should be held indoors. Whenever necessary, coaches should increase the frequency and duration of breaks for athletes to rest and rehydrate.

Furthermore, coaches need to educate themselves to recognize the signs of heat-related illnesses.

As pre-season practice progresses, uniform and protective equipment should be added gradually in order to allow athletes to adapt to the added weight in the middle of the heat.

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