For many of us, summertime is about relaxation—going to the beach, lounging by the pool, maybe eating a little more ice cream than usual. But if you’re a high school or college athlete, summertime is about training for the upcoming season.
For student athletes, summer is an important time in your sports career. This is the time of year when you get into better shape and improve your abilities, perhaps correcting some learned mistakes from the previous season. At the same time, with the higher temperatures comes greater risk of injury, particularly for football players or other outdoor athletes. It’s therefore, essential to make sure your summer training is done safely and in a manner that is helping more than hurting! Literally!
Here are some best practices to help you avoid injuries and to ensure your summer training is a success.
Let your body adjust to the heat
If you’re used to working out indoors, moving to an outdoor training environment needs to be done gradually and cautiously to allow your body to adjust to the higher temperatures. It’s common for gyms to be air conditioned, and moving from a cool weight room to a hot field may cause a shock to your body. It’s important to give yourself enough time over a period of days—not hours—to let your body adjust to exercising in hotter temperatures. Otherwise, your body may quickly overheat, and increasing the chance of injury.
Adjust your routine
When exercising in warmer temperatures, the body uses more energy inevitably leading to increased fatigue. To help reduce this, change up your fitness routine to ensure fatigue levels are not too high. Essentially, decreasing the intensity of workouts i.e. focus on distance running as opposed to time.
Watch out for dehydration
When training in hotter weather, your body will likely sweat more as it works to maintain a consistent internal body temperature. If not managed properly, this can lead to serious dehydration. It’s therefore, essential to know the symptoms you may experience under this condition. Including: increased thirst, dry mouth, reduced and discolored urine, headaches and muscle cramps, and fatigue. It’s so important to drink enough water before, during and after your training routine, and take sufficient breaks, preferably in a shaded area.
Don’t overdo it!
This is possibly the most important thing for you to know as a student athlete! We often are driven by our desire to improve, but in the summer, it’s very easy to over-stress the body. Luckily, our body will tell us when something is wrong. Muscle cramping, breathlessness, fatigue, and even dizziness or vomiting, can be signs our body has had too much. Ignoring these signs can lead to much more severe and long-lasting injuries. If you are experiencing any symptoms like these, it may be time to take a day or two break, for optimal recovery.
Remember, no workout is worth risking your entire sports career—whether it’s only the upcoming season or beyond!