Stay Cool in the Pool

Even in cool conditions, a player's body heats up from the tremendous expenditure of energy in tennis.

Published September 17, 2009 10:33

Stay Cool in the Pool
Jelena Jankovic

All players will experience the challenge of playing in hot and/or humid weather during their careers. Even in cool conditions, a player's body heats up from the tremendous expenditure of energy in tennis. In competition, a player may generate 15 - 20 times the heat that is produced at rest. The excess heat is dissipated (reduced) mainly through sweating.
Factors that weaken the body's ability to reduce the heat load are:

* High environment temperature
* Humidity (decrease efficiency of sweating)
* Solar radiation (direct sunlight)
* Dehydration

"What happens when my body temperature increases too much
or I lose a lot of fluid and electrolytes from sweating?"

Play will feel more difficult, you'll fatigue earlier, and your performance will go down.

Early heat illness symptoms may appear, such as:

* Headache
* Dizziness
* Vision problems
* Muscle cramps
* Rapid heart rate
* Lack energy
* Chills
* Nausea

Without intervention, these signs can quickly intensify and you may face a more serious situation ranging from severe heat-related muscle cramps to heat exhaustion and collapse.

Without proper treatment, this situation can progress into life-threatening heatstroke.

Hydration Facts

Hydration helps - but, if it's hot enough and you're playing hard and the match goes long enough, excessive heat strain can happen even when you're fairly well hydrated.

This can also happen when playing indoors.

Remember, thirst is not always a sufficient indicator of hydration. In fact, strong thirst may be a sign that you are already 2-3 % dehydrated.

DID YOU KNOW that a 1% level of dehydration can decrease athletic performance and 3% could put you in the high risk zone for heat illness?

Here are some reminders on hydration and other recommendations to help make playing in the heat safer and more tolerable.

Be Prepared!!

Before the Tournament:

Get fit: High aerobic fitness and an appropriate level of body fat can give you a big advantage when it comes to tolerating the heat, reducing heat storage, and effectively regulating your body temperature during play.
Taper your training: Reduce the volume of training and unnecessary heat exposure (like sitting pool side!) in the days before a hot weather event. This assists your body to recover and boosts your heat tolerance and performance.
Acclimatize to the heat: Training in hotter conditions helps you acclimatize and allows your body systems to adapt to the heat so you will perform better. Arrive at least 3-5 days before playing a tournament in a hotter or more humid environment. Full heat acclimatization may take much longer (10 to 14 days or longer).
Clothing: Be sure that you have the proper clothing on hand.

White or light-colored clothing reflects solar radiation and helps reduce the heat load.
Wear loose fitting, breathable, lightweight and "wicking" fabrics that absorb sweat and decrease heat load.
Lose the dark cap - wear a light-colored one or a visor in the sun.


Match Days- Before, During and After Play:

Drink plenty of fluids (water, juice, milk, sport drinks) throughout the day.

In warm to hot conditions, muscle glycogen use is higher; sports drinks with 6-8% carbohydrate can help to fight fatigue and enhance muscle endurance.
Avoid excessive caffeine intake (soft drinks, coffee, etc.) due to their dehydrating effects.

Check your urine: It should be fairly light-colored and a good volume each time.

However, if you urinate often (e.g., every 45 minutes or less), you may be drinking too much!

Minimize exposure to the heat and sun.

Keep out of the sun when you don't need to be on court.
Make practice and warm-up sessions short (30 minutes) and efficient.

Drink regularly (about every 10 minutes) during all practice and warm-up sessions.

Drink at each changeover during matches. Drink water and sports drink.

Most female players can comfortably drink up to 1.5 liters per hour.
This rate of fluid intake can prevent large fluid deficits for most players.

Cool down: Use shade and other available means of staying cool such as fans and ice bags (during changeovers).

Ice bags placed on your lap and under your armpits help cool your body temperature.
Change wet sweat-soaked clothes when possible. Replace with dry clothes, including socks and underwear.

Continue drinking after play to restore any fluid deficit that remains. Use pre- to post-play changes in body weight as a guideline. If you sweated a lot and have to play again soon, fluid and electrolyte restoration should begin immediately.

It can take up to 24 hours to re-hydrate completely before your next match!
Drink about 1.3 liters of fluid per 1 kg of weight loss (= about 20 oz fluid per 1 pound).

Got It In You?

Eat after you play: Within 30-60 minutes eat a snack /meal high in carbohydrates with some protein.
Add some salt to your diet: Eat high-salt foods, like pretzels, or add salt to meals or drinks
Eat plenty of carbohydrates: (bread, cereal, potatoes, rice, fruit, etc.). Playing tennis in the heat causes the body to use carbohydrates faster; thus, your requirement for carbohydrate is greater.
Get plenty of sleep: Insufficient sleep increases your susceptibility to heat illness.
Add recovery and relaxation activities to your routine each day.
Stay in a cool environment (especially just before play) as much as possible. This can reduce the physiological and psychological strain when you are on the court.

Take Extra Precautions….

Medications: Ask your doctor about any medication that you are taking with respect to its potential effect on hydration or tolerance of the heat.
Recent illness: Fever, a respiratory tract infection, diarrhea or vomiting within the past week can increase your risk of heat problems. Consult your doctor before you train or play.
Sunburn can increase your susceptibility to heat illness.
Wear a hat and use sunscreen (SPF 15-30) on all exposed skin when you practice and play.
Recognize early signs of heat illness: These include headache, nausea, dizziness, clumsiness, uncontrolled breathing or heartbeat, weakness, muscle twinges or cramps, irritability, apathy, and confusion.
Cramping? If you are prone to muscle cramping and/or heat intolerance, an evaluation of your on-court fluid-electrolyte losses and body temperature responses would be helpful and would contribute to your competition strategy.

The contents of the Game, Set, Health site, are for informational purposes only and should not be treated as medical, psychiatric, psychological, health care or health management advice. The materials herein are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this site. Reliance on any information provided herein is solely at your own risk.



Topics: 2009, news
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