In my days as a full time Athletic Trainer, there was one type of injury that really stood out to me as the most frustrating injury to have to deal with in my athletes/performers.
This particular injury type was frustrating to me because no one was immune from it, it could strike at virtually any time, and even if you did everything that you were supposed to do to prevent it from happening it would STILL pop up on occasion.
Heat injuries can go from painful to deadly pretty quickly if you’re not careful, and that’s why I wanted to list out a number of common signs and symptoms of heat injury/illness on Sunday so you know what to be aware of in case you or your running friends start to overheat a little bit this summer.
But today, I want to share some of the best tips and tricks that I’ve learned in my years of working with athletes at all levels to help beat the heat and reduce the risks of heat injuries this summer.
Sure, some of these tips are pretty common sense, but it can be easy to overlook these simple suggestions thinking you’ll be fine, only to regret that decision later.
So pay attention!
How to Reduce the Risk of Heat Injuries This Summer
- Stay Hydrated–Every runner knows the value of being adequately hydrated, but it’s even more important when the heat and humidity levels rise in the summer months. Make sure you’re upping your intake of water, cutting back on sugary drinks, and remember that the best way to monitor if you’re drinking enough is to check the color of your urine when you go to the bathroom. Here’s a somewhat decent guide:
- Don’t Run Mid-Day–Sounds simple enough, but I’ve been in situations before where a mid-day run (even in the summer) was the best option. But if possible, try to get out and run first thing in the morning or later in the evening.
- Stick to the Shade–If you do have to run while the sun is up, try to stick to shaded routes as much as possible.
- Eat Quality Food–This is one of the most overlooked items on most “How to Avoid Heat Illness” guides, and that is the value that having good fuel plays in our body’s ability to cool itself. As always, plenty of fruits, veggies, and other real foods are the best bet, but in this case (almost) any food is better than no food at all. So if you know you’re going to be running in the heat, make sure you’re eating well on a consistent basis.
- Get Plenty of Rest–Sleep does so many good things for our bodies, and yet it’s overlooked by many people (runners and non-runners both). If you’re working your body hard, and please realize that even an “easy” run during the heat of the summer works your body hard, you need to be getting plenty of sleep to help your body recover. Shut it down an extra hour early tonight (and every night going forward) and get some extra sleep.
When all is said and done, there is no way to completely prevent heat illness, and that frustrates the hell out of me.
But doing the right things can dramatically reduce the risk, and I’d imagine that all of us can improve on one or more of the items on this list.
Stay safe this summer y’all. It’s going to be a hot one!
How Does Your Summer Running Routine Differ From the What You Do the Rest of the Year?