Heat Stroke & Summer Workouts

A heat stroke (heat injury) can occur when you work out or compete on a hot and / or humid summer day, don't drink enough or just push yourself too hard, while your skin is getting hotter and hotter. Heat strokes can be mortal and actually have a much higher death rate than most would expect. Especially those preparing for their first marathon or triathlon are at risk. Find more track and field topics at track and field main and sports injury related topics at the injuries main page.

Description: Heat Stroke & Summer Workouts

  • What happens when you work out in the midday heat of a hot summer day?
    Basically the skin cools you down. Imagine your muscles as a motor. So when you work out or compete, a lot of heat is produced and what you need to work better is a cooler - the skin. Of course the skin is not just a cooler for heavy workouts in the summer heat. Besides it protects us from bacteria, liquid loss etc. etc. What happens is that the blood is cooled down after running through your over-heated muscles. Unfortunately the human body is not very efficient when we work out. More than 70 percent of the energy we spend is wasted in heat production. The better you are acclimatized and the fitter you are, the less energy is wasted. The heat is transported to your skin where it is supposed to be cooled down by sweat evaporation. But if the sun shines on your skin and you work out or compete in the midday heat, or if you are dehydrated so that your body doesn't have enough water for sweat production, your skin is overstrained. As a result, your performance will suffer and one of the first symptoms is breath shortage. Another bad coincidence would be if air humidity is very high. If the humidity of the air is too high, the air can't absorb the sweat that evaporates. That's why high air humidity and heat are a mortal combination for marathon runners and triathletes. If you think about it for a moment, you will come to the conclusion that the air temperature should be lower than the body temperature. Two degrees less (34 °) is ok for most of us, but with a high air humidity this can still be too much. A warm day with an air temperature of 30 degrees plus 60% humidity is usually ok. But 42 degrees and 90 percent humidity would be very dangerous. Wind, shades, or a short shower with a cup of water can help.

Symptoms: Heat Stroke & Summer Workouts

  • Dizziness
  • Blurred vision
  • Loss of orientation
  • Headache
  • Pale & dry skin
  • Decrease in sweating
  • Fatigue
  • Head starts pounding, can't run straight

Who is susceptible: Heat Stroke & Summer Workouts

  • Triathletes & marathon runners who compete in a hot and humid environment.
  • People who don't get acclimated before a competition.
  • Excessive beach volleyball players - Beach heat.
  • People who do heavy workouts during their summer vacation.
  • The less skin a person has per kg body weight, the higher the risk of a heat stroke. A heavy person, is more likely to suffer a heat stroke than a thin person.

Treatment: Heat Stroke & Summer Workouts

  • Rest in the shade.
  • Cold Shower.
  • Lie down and raise your feet 8-12 inches to get more blood to the brain.
  • Keep drinking cups of cold water for at 30 to 60 minutes
  • Loosen or remove cloth (but not in the bright sun).
  • Sponge bare skin with cold water.
  • Fan or A.C.
  • Slow down or stop if you feel dizzy.
  • Medical help

Trainer advice: Heat Stroke & Summer Workouts

  • Run in the shade if possible.
  • Drink a cup of water every 20 minutes.
  • Don't let the rays of the sun over heat your skin. Wear a light shirt, run in the shade etc.
  • Slow down if you feel weak.
  • If you are going to compete in the midday heat, cool morning and evening workouts will not fully prepare you for the event. Get acclimatized 2 weeks before the competition. You will sweat less and improve your motor / cooler efficiency.
  • Avoid alcohol.
  • Avoid big meals 2 hours before the workout or the competition.
  • Pour a cup of water over your head or your shoulders if you are running a marathon on a hot summer day. I'm sure you have seen a lot of prof. marathon runners do this and it's not just a waste of water. This will cool your skin down and possibly avoid a heat stroke.

Videos: Heat Stroke & Summer Workouts

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