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Athletic Group Issues New Guidance To Prevent Heat Illnesses

young football player drinking water

Photo: Jim Larrison (Flickr)

Football players, that wear heavy gear, are often at risk of heat exhaustion.

The National Athletic Trainers’ Association is issuing new guidelines to help coaches and their athletes prevent heat exhaustion.

At a press conference Friday in Indianapolis the group joined with Indianapolis Colts players to emphasize the importance of keeping athletes in good health.

The Athletic Trainers Association says it now recommends coaches create a health acclimatization plan to help athletes get used to the heat gradually over a period of 7 to 14 days.

During practice and competition, the group says coaches and event organizers should plan rest breaks to match the surrounding conditions.

At the USA Youth Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Bloomington, athletes sit in the shade and carry multiple water bottles, even early in the morning, as their coaches constantly remind them to stay hydrated.

“If you keep yourself hydrated enough to perform well, you are not going to have difficulty with just being  out in the heat,” says W. Curtis Stitt, a coach and founder of the New World Track Club.

He says he thinks most of his fellow coaches try to stay up to date with the latest research and take all the precautions they can.

But, he adds, he could always use additional guidance to make sure his athletes are healthy and safe.

Rebecca Lopez, assistant orthopedics and sports medicine professor at University of South Florida, says athletic trainers should work with high school coaches to prevent heat strokes.

“Unfortunately, even though our research and education has been improving, we still have way too many deaths from exertional heat stroke,” Lopez says. “You can’t prevent every single heat illness, but when somebody is properly diagnosed and treated on-site for exertional heat stroke, it is 100 percent survivable.”

Lopez says athletes aren’t the only ones who would benefit from following these new guidelines.

“It’s basically anyone exercising in the heat, could be industrial workers or military working in the heat, these guidelines can apply as well,” Lopez says.

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