This week, we explore strategies to combat heightened heat stress during hot and humid conditions.
To best answer this question, Gibson et al (2020) has outlined the tools available within an athletes ‘heat alleviation toolbox’.
The common cooling strategies are delivered via:
1) External cooling (cooling from the outside in, predominantly through reducing skin temperature).
2) Internal cooling (cooling from the inside out, typically through ingesting cold fluids).
The following example (8pm KO) provided by Gibson et al aims to (1) reduce body temperature or allow greater heat loss, and (2) ensure the athlete perceives themselves to feel cooler and best prepared.
-90 mins pre: Players internally cool via ‘drip feeding’ ~100mL of ice slurry every ~5 mins whilst externally cooling via cold, wet towels and using handheld mist spray.
– 40 mins pre: Players externally cool by wearing ice vests whilst continuing to internally cool via ice slurry’s mixed with carbohydrates or cold isotonic sports drinks and gels to meet both their fuelling and fluid needs.
Kick-Off: When possible, internally cool with cold isotonic sports drinks that are kept in ice boxes on the side-lines. Similarly, think about ‘drip feeding’ to meet cooling, carbohydrate and fluid needs.
Half-Time: Externally cool using ice vests, cold, wet towels, high powered fans, misting spray whilst internally cool using ice slurry’s and drinks.
Full-Time: All methods of internal and external cooling are used, but players have the option of ice-baths for further cooling if available.
Above all, athletes cannot ignore large losses of water via sweat as this can further increase heat stress and cardiovascular strain. Therefore, athletes should monitor changes in body mass pre and post session/event to determine their individual fluid requirements
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