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Happy June everyone! If you’re the general ski population, time for some hot days and rollerski training. Summer training definitely has its perks:  ski to the nearest lake and jump in, numerous shirtless training hours, and just not having to endure -40⁰F weather. Unfortunately, I’m sure we have all had that one day where we felt dizzy, super thirsty, or cramped up. Every smart skier should know how to recognize heat illness, and best yet, how to prevent it from happening. We can’t control the weather, but we can control how we train in it.

If you know the weather is going to be hot and humid the next few days, take certain things in to consideration. Get to know your body and how it handles heat. Questions you should ask yourself before you even begin are

-What is my height and weight? (Heavier athletes sweat more typically)

-How acclimated am I in this type of weather? (The more acclimated, the more efficient ‘sweater’ you are)

-Where am I in my training? (The fitter you are, the more efficient ‘sweater’ you are)

-Have I been hydrating before my scheduled workout?

-What do I plan on wearing? (Never wear dark clothing, wear light colors)

-How long is my workout? (More planning ahead is needed for longer workouts, also consideration of cutting a workout short if the weather is THAT bad)

-Do I have a history of heat illness, being dehydrated, syncope (fainting), etc? (Get to know your body!)

Using these questions can help you plan out your workout. If you have a 3 hour OD scheduled, starting at 1 PM is probably the worst idea you could have. Start as early as possible when the sun is low, but bright enough cars can see you.

Hydration!

These girls know, smart summer training is fun!

Use your common sense with hot and humid weather. You know you’re going to sweat right? Well then drink before practice/training, and BRING YOUR WATER BELT. Of all the equipment I have, the water belt is the most essential. Seeing young skiers without them is scary because dehydration and heat illnesses can easily be prevented if water is readily available. How do you know if you’re hydrated? Check your pee! I’m sure we have all heard this before, but lemonade colored is ideal for being hydrated. Hydrating itself is important as well. Don’t chug your Nalgene 10 minutes before the workout. Drink about 20 oz of water 3 hours before the workout, and then about 20 minutes from the start of your workout drink another quick 10 oz. During exercise, if you begin to feel thirsty you are reaching dehydration. Replenishing fluids lost after a workout is essential too. Mild dehydration means that normal body weight will drop 2%. For example, if you weigh yourself before a workout and you’re a lean 150 lbs, and after the workout you are 147, you are dehydrated. Again, the best thing is to be smart about water. Don’t forget about sports drinks too! They often do a better job hydrating and rehydrating the body when used properly. They replace the carbohydrates, sodium, and potassium often lost through sweat.

Types of Heat Disorders and how to Prevent them:

Heat Cramps: Sweating heavily and working hard causes an imbalance between water and electrolytes, the athlete will most likely experience muscle twitching and cramps in their calves and abdominals, or other muscles. If heat cramps occur, it’s key to rehydrate. Also mild stretching with some ice massage can help relieve the pain from the cramps. To prevent heat cramps, make sure you’re acclimated to the environment and properly hydrated.

Heat Exhaustion: Heat exhaustion can be detected by pale skin, loss of coordination, excessive thirst, fatigue, weakness, mental dullness, and an elevated body temperature up to 104⁰F. The best indicator that an athlete isn’t on their way to having a heatstroke is temperature. The only accurate way to test for this is to take a rectal temperature; taking the temperature anywhere else won’t be as accurate. Quickly remove the athlete from the heat, and begin rehydrating and lowering core body temperature. Continue to monitor the athlete, and if their condition doesn’t significantly improve, transportation to a hospital may be needed.

Heatstroke: Heatstroke is a life-threatening emergency. The elevated body temperature can lead to tissue damage and central nervous system dysfunction. Many symptoms can occur: altered levels of consciousness, confusion, irrational behavior, rectal temperature above 104⁰F, flushed/hot skin, shallow/fast breathing, rapid/strong pulse, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, decreased blood pressure, and dehydration. If the athlete’s body temperature can be lowered quickly, the risk of death decreases significantly. The best plan would be to strip the athlete, and immerse in a cold bath or sponge down with cold water and a fan. If possible, try to lower the body temperature at least 4 degrees before transport to a hospital. Only attempt rapid cooling if adequate medical supervision is available, otherwise transport to a hospital quickly. After recovery, an athlete should avoid exercise, be asymptomatic, and be cleared by a doctor before returning.

Summer can be the best time of the year, and we can often forget the dangers associated with training in the heat. The best advice is to use common sense before going out and training. Stay hydrated and stay smart.

Information and recommendations taken from Principles of Athletic Training, 13th edition by William Prentice.