Protect Yourself From The Heat
As the climate gets warmer, more and more people head outdoors to play tennis. While it’s pleasant to feel the sun on your face as you hit the ball back and for with your friends, there are a few things that you should keep in mind before stepping out into that sunlight. The combination of the warmer climate, and your body heating up during match plays puts you in higher risk of heat illnesses such as muscle cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke.
In the heat, if you don’t have enough fluids in your body, and if your sweat isn’t evaporating fast enough, chances are you will experience one of the heat illnesses mentioned previously. As you play, your body heats up from movement, on top of that the heat from the court and the sun add to the heat your body experiences. If it is not properly taken care of, you could end up experiencing cramps, exhaustion, nausea, wobbly legs, dizziness, headaches, light headedness, or even pass out. These are all the symptoms of muscle cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke.
The key to prevention is hydration, and helping your body keep cool while you’re out playing. If you read our hydration article, it will give you a better sense of how to stay hydrated while playing tennis. The large idea is to have both electrolytes and fluids going into your body as you are sweating them out. In order to keep your body cool, it will also help to wear white clothing and a hat to reflect the sun, wipe down sweat with a towel during changeovers, drinking cold beverages (about 5 degrees Celsius), and drink even if you don’t feel thirsty. It would also help to avoid the hottest time of the day, which is from 11am to 3pm, and to drink plenty of fluids before you start your match. Additionally, if you are going to a warmer climate than you are accustomed to, the USTA recommends allowing a 7-10 day adjustment period with light and short training sessions of 15-20 minutes, and 2-4 hours of daily heat exposure before starting to play tennis again. This helps the body adjust to the change in average temperature and aids in preventing you from experiencing heat exposure.
The best way for you to care for you is of course, to know yourself. If you haven’t been physically active recently, or are a child or a senior, you are at higher risk for heat illness and should take more precautions before, during, and after playing. If you aren’t feeling well and have a fever, or are suffering from gastrointestinal illness, you shouldn’t play until you get better.
If you, or someone else does happen to end up with heat illness, be sure to get them out of the sun into a cool place, give them something cool to drink, wipe off their sweat, and raise their legs up. The point is to get their core body temperature down, so do whatever you can. An ice pack placed on the back of the neck is one of the quickest ways to cool someone’s body. The person shouldn’t play for the rest of the day. If the person still doesn’t feel well after a long while, it’s time to get professional medical help.
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