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Practicing in hot weather

August 6, 2012
The Daily News

Local high school teams have started their pre-season sports practices today.

There are always concerns about physical activity in hot conditions.

Every year, we read about some healthy athlete somewhere across the nation collapsing during a practice.

So far, this area has been fortunate. We haven't had those types of incidents.

Each year, the Michigan High School Athletic Association provides information to its member schools to help them prepare for hot weather practice and game conditions in the late summer and early fall.

The topic of heat-related injuries receives a lot of attention at this time of year, especially when deaths at the professional, collegiate and interscholastic levels of sport occur, and especially since they are all preventable with the proper precautions.

With fall football practice beginning across the country and with record heat in many locations this year, heat illness is a concern.

To help, "A Guide to Heat Acclimatization and Heat Illness Prevention" has been developed by the National Federation of State High School Associations.

The information points out that student-athletes are subject to a variety of maladies from heat cramps to heat strokes at this time of year. It provides critical information designed to minimize the risk of activity-related heat stroke among high school athletes.

Preventative steps are outlined, including hydration guidelines about what to drink (water) and what not to drink (carbonated beverages).

Some of the hydration tips and fluid guidelines include:

- In general, athletes do not voluntarily drink sufficient water to prevent dehydration during physical activity.

- Drink early, by the time you're thirsty, you're already dehydrated.

- Drink before, during, and after practices and games. Specifically, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends the following:

- Drink 16 ounces of fluid two hours before exercise.

- Drink another 8 to 16 ounces 15 minutes before exercise.

- During exercise, drink 4 to 16 ounces of fluid every 15 to 20 minutes.

- After exercise, drink 24 ounces of fluid for every pound lost during exercise to achieve normal fluid statue within six hours.

- The volume and color of urine is an excellent way of determining if a person is well hydrated. Large amounts of clear urine mean the individual is hydrated, small amounts of dark urine mean that the individual needs to drink more.

"Our coaches are so much more aware of hydration and heat issues now, but you can never let your guard down," said John R. Johnson, communications director for the MHSAA.

"We cannot emphasize enough that water be available in unlimited quantities at all times during practices, and that coaching staffs need to be tuned into their student-athletes and be sure they are partaking of water. There is no excuse for any number of heat stroke deaths since they are all preventable," Johnson said in a news release.

Johnson added that as student-athletes work out on their own individually or with a group of teammates in informal settings, they also need to be aware of their hydration.

"Hydration is an ongoing process, not just something that takes place during physical activity," he said. "Getting hydrated in advance of practices and work outs is important."



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