Chew on this helpful information while I await literary inspiration. It was so hot out there yesterday it was like riding on the surface of the sun. Taco was laying it down on his new Santa Cruz. He caught a pedal and went whipping head over heels like a rag doll on the Fern Trail. All things considered, it was a good ride, just a little too “moist”.
The two heat-related injuries that are of major concern are heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Heat exhaustion itself is rarely life-threatening, although if it goes unattended, it can lead to heat stroke, which is life-threatening. The symptoms of heat exhaustion include headache, nausea, dizziness, light-headedness, and a rapid pulse. If an athlete experiences these symptoms, he or she should cease activity and lie down in the shade or some other cool (not cold) area. They should also sip water until the symptoms pass. The athlete should not be allowed to resume exercise after suffering heat exhaustion. If the symptoms of heat exhaustion are not heeded, heat stroke can follow. The symptoms of heat stroke are disorientation and eventual unconsciousness, and a very high body temperature (above 104°F [40°C]). First-aid for heat stroke is to cool the athlete’s body as quickly as possible. This may mean immersing the athlete in cold water or rubbing them with alcohol. Because heat stroke is life-threatening, the athlete needs medical attention, even if they begin to recover.
How can heat exhaustion and heat stroke be prevented? The most important preventive measure is to make sure that athletes drink plenty of fluids before, during, and after practice and training sessions. Other important measures include wearing proper clothing and modifying practice and training sessions as needed for the weather conditions. Also of importance is allowing athletes to acclimatize to the heat, a process that takes between one and two weeks. During the process of heat acclimatization the body’s heat removal systems become more efficient. Therefore, when athletes first begin training in hot weather, both exercise intensity and duration should be reduced.