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It may only be the middle of August, but high school fall athletes are already getting ready for their upcoming season. An important part of every fall athlete’s training is heat acclimatization, which is generally done one to two weeks prior to regular practice and is the process of getting the body ready to perform more efficiently in hot and humid weather.
One reason that we pay so much attention to heat acclimatization during August is because many of our fall athletes are in equipment intensive sports. Football players are especially at a high risk for suffering a heat related illness during practices because they were heavy padding and helmets. They actually begin their heat acclimatization a week earlier than everyone else in order to ease them into practice. During that time we minimize the equipment that they wear and their practices outside.
We believe heat acclimatization is important regardless of whether the temperature is 70 degrees or 90 degrees. Sweat patterns are different for different athletes and sometimes it may not feel like it’s that hot, but once we put the equipment on them we’ve inhibited how well they are able to perspire and get rid of all of that extra heat.
Studies have shown that after 10 to 14 days the body breaks down the heat much more efficiently, which allows people to participate much more safely in sports. Heat illnesses are preventable so it’s really important to take heat acclimatization seriously and make sure it’s done properly.