If You Can’t Stand the Heat…

I grew up in Florida, where the heat can be oppressive during the summer.  When our son started playing in summer soccer tournaments, the New Jersey heat brought back memories of my years in Florida because the heat during those tournaments often felt unbearable.  I never worried about the health of our son during these games in the extreme heat, though, because he stayed hydrated and took frequent breaks.  But then I read about a player dying of heat stroke during practice…  

If you have a loved-one that practices or plays games in extreme heat, a study done by researchers at the University of Florida may be of interest to you.  The researchers looked at extreme heat illnesses in football players from twelve high schools in Central Florida during the months of August, September and October.  They found that 82.5% of the heat-related illnesses recorded during that three-month period occurred in August, and “athletes in August practices that lasted longer than the recommended 3 hours were 9.84 times more likely to suffer a heat illness than those in practices lasting ≤3 hours”.  The most common heat-related illnesses were cramps, which accounted for 70% of the illnesses. Heat exhaustion accounted for 23% of the illnesses, and heat syncope (or fainting) accounted for 7% of the illnesses.  

The authors concluded that “practices in August that exceeded the recommended 3 hours were associated with a greater risk of heat illnesses”, but also recommended that trainers employ similar analyses to gather region-specific and sport-specific information related to heat-related illnesses.