This week NFL football training camps kicks off. With the hot summer weather, special care must be taken to ensure that athletes practicing and working out in hot, humid conditions properly hydrate. The days are long gone when it was considered a sign of weakness when an athlete would stop during practice and drink water.
Eleven years ago Korey Stringer, Minnesota Vikings offensive tackle, died of heat-related complications during NFL training camp. The Korey Stringer Institute (KSI) at the University of Connecticut is making sure teams and coaches are taking measures to avoid any heat-related deaths or complications. KSI is partnered with the NFL and is one of the leading institutions studying athlete heat and hydration issues. You can reach more about KSI from the BOC’s September 2011 blog Heat Illness Education and the Role of ATs.
The National Athletic Trainers Association (NATA) released guidelines aimed at preventing sudden, heat-related injuries and deaths. These guidelines are based on proven ideas that incorporate common sense into summer workouts. Read the summary of these guidelines.
“The NCAA adopted NATA’s guidelines in 2003, and since then there has not been a single heat-related death in sports,” said Rebecca Stearns, KSI’s director of education and vice president of operations. “KSI’s next target is high school sports,” Stearns said, “ where the number of heat-related deaths has nearly tripled over the last 15 years, according to University of Georgia Climatologist Andrew Grundstein.”
“Less than 50 percent of high schools have Certified Athletic Trainers on site, so the warning signs for heat illness can go unrecognized,” Stern said. Georgia high schools have a practice policy for heat and humidity after two Georgia high school football players died last year during summer workouts. August 1st is the first day that schools are permitted to allow football players to be in full pads under the Practice Policy for Heat and Humidity implemented by the Georgia High School Association (GHSA). Read more about heat illness prevention and learn more about what other Athletic Trainers are doing in the article Weather a Hot Topic as Football Season Kicks Off.
According to the NATA, signs of heat exhaustion include thirst, headache, dizziness, nausea, cramps, excessive fatigue and dry mouth. If experiencing these symptoms, athletes should be moved to a cool environment or into the shade immediately and rehydrate with an electrolyte-containing drink like Gatorade.
Written by: Brittney Ryba