Beating your silent summer opponent ... the heat

Lou Marino


Beating your silent summer opponent ... the heat

Now that we're in the thick of our Lowcountry summer, it has been scorching, with the hottest yet to come!

It was almost as if spring only lasted as long as it takes to flip a switch. From there it was "full speed ahead" with the heat.

Not having any kind of gradual heat transition can present a real danger of possible heat exhaustion - or even heat stroke - no matter how fit an individual might be.

The summer is a good time to provide a few tips on how to recognize, and what to do, when heat conditions start to affect our performance on the tennis courts. This also applies to any outdoor activity you might take part in when it is hot outside.

A first, good step to take is to eat more carbohydrates. The United States Tennis Association's Sports Science Committee suggests foods such as grains, fruits and vegetables because the heat causes the body to burn more carbs than it does in cooler conditions.

The more active you are, the more you need to take in to balance the loss.

Next, it is critical to hydrate. That means drink plenty of water and healthy fluids daily, especially the day before you plan to have a full day of activity in the sun. If you're regularly on the courts, keep drinking a couple of ounces of water or sports drink at each changeover.

When I was a kid, our family doctor, whose son was quite an advanced tennis player, always recommended drinking an eight-ounce glass of water every couple of hours, daily, as an overall type of "preventative maintenance" to stay healthy.

Seems to me he was heads-up on the benefits of staying hydrated.

Check with your doctor regarding any medications you might be taking and how they might affect sweat loss under heat stress, and consider modifying them if he or she advises it.

Get plenty of sleep, because lack of sleep can increase susceptibility to heat illness.

Use sunscreen, at least SPF-30, on all exposed skin, wear a hat that covers the ears and back of the neck, and wear UV-rated sunglasses.

Finally, know the signs that might suggest heat illness to help you stay safe: headache, weakness, dizziness, irritability, apathy, nausea, confusion, muscle twinges or cramps. If you experience any of these while being active in the heat, stop the activity and seek immediate help.

Here's hoping you beat the heat safely this summer.

Lou Marino is a USPTA Cardio and youth tennis coach who lives, teaches and provides racquet service in the Bluffton-Hilton Head Island area. lwmarino@hotmail.com