How to minimise heat stress
February 11, 2024 2:42 PM   Subscribe

Are there any preventative steps I can take to reduce the impact of heat on me from a weekly sports game in summer?

I play a weekly after-work sports game year-round outdoors. During summer, it's sometimes still 32-37C when we play, and I invariably end up with a headache/general weakness the rest of the evening and some of the next day too.
What I've tried: drinking a lot of water during and after the game.
Yes, I could not play during summer. What else could I try to reduce the impact of the heat?
posted by happyfrog to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (22 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Wearing light coloured loose clothing in a breathable fabric;

wearing a hat;

regular rest breaks in the shade during the game;

mixing electrolyte powder into the water that you drink
posted by chariot pulled by cassowaries at 2:46 PM on February 11 [4 favorites]

You can also buy ice vests - vests with pockets for squishy frozen gel packs to help you stay cool
posted by chariot pulled by cassowaries at 2:46 PM on February 11 [2 favorites]

Maybe sounds weird, but I'd try jogging/running in the heat a few times a week besides the weekly game. I used to run year-round in the Deep South in the US, even when it would be 37/38C outside. This can of course be dangerous - I would do these runs either with my partner or I'd at least let them know what I was doing. And of course I built up to this by running all throughout the spring/ early summer. Still, that first really hot run would be hard, but I found my body would adapt.
posted by coffeecat at 3:10 PM on February 11 [7 favorites]

Seconding the "wearing a hat" and "electrolyte powder" suggestions. I'm a fan of the Nuun tablets, they come in a super compact container and you just drop one in a water bottle.
posted by true at 3:20 PM on February 11 [5 favorites]

Try drinking heaps of water before the game as well, starting that morning. If it's that hot, your body might need the extra all day.
posted by pianissimo at 3:22 PM on February 11 [3 favorites]

Like coffeecat says, prior acclimation is the way to go. Plus shade, rest, and water during.
posted by sacrifix at 3:24 PM on February 11 [2 favorites]

Agree w both Chariot pulled by cassowaries & coffeecat — you need a combination of acclimating and heat management. You can’t just hydrate your way out of it, and the cooling towels don’t do enough if you’ve got high heat AND high humidity.

I find that when I can run in the summer (Florida) I can do everything else easier. But at my age (55F), I can’t manage heat like I used to could. I never thought about buying an ice vest, but now I’m going to.
posted by toodleydoodley at 3:32 PM on February 11 [1 favorite]

I pooh-poohed drinking cold drinks when I had to work outside in the heat for much, much too long. But very cold beverages in an insulated container really do make a huge difference when I am overheating, which is nearly every day that doesn’t require a sweater. Sorry if this is too obvious, but just in case you’re like younger me and consider cold, flavored water in the same vein of decadence as eating songbirds, try it. And I drink a lot more when I make an electrolyte solution with a splash of juice in it—something about the sweet and salty together will get more liquid into me.

Off to buy an ice vest.
posted by corey flood at 3:56 PM on February 11 [4 favorites]

how are you on sodium, potassium, and magnesium? If I get that headache/weakness feeling when I'm sweating a ton in the heat it's usually resolved by supplementing those in my water as needed.
posted by firefly5 at 4:12 PM on February 11 [3 favorites]

Hydrate a lot before playing.
posted by heathrowga at 5:19 PM on February 11

Pour water on your head during the game.

Maybe sounds weird, but I'd try jogging/running in the heat a few times a week besides the weekly game.

And this. Acclimating in any way you can helps.

Gatorade is actually not great. It's got 1% of your daily requirements for electrolytes and potassium. Pedialyte is way better. Bananas are good too, to prevent cramps.
posted by The_Vegetables at 6:48 PM on February 11

Hat and water on the head have both been mentioned, but the combo - wet hat - is better than either alone.
Also, wet shirt.
posted by inexorably_forward at 7:29 PM on February 11

+1 to water first and also consider some electrolyte tablets.
posted by potrzebie at 7:46 PM on February 11

Adding in heat acclimation is a real real thing. Lots of ways to do it.
posted by creiszhanson at 7:56 PM on February 11

Years ago I asked a question about keeping cool on long bike rides in the heat and got some great advice.

Some things that really work for me, I know now:
Yes, get some electrolytes in your drink. Ideally, you'll start a day or two before, or even be drinking them regularly in the summer. Make sure to have some electrolytes in your drink starting the morning before the hot games.

Acclimating helps. Plan an outside activity other days of the week. Heat stroke and such is worse early in the season on hot days because we're not acclimated.

Have a water bottle with cold water or ice water and dump it on your head when you start to feel a little bit hot (or during a break). Also get water on the back of your neck and wrists and other places where your veins are near your skin.

Get out of the sun and heat and into a cool shower as quickly as you can afterwards. Make sure you eat a solid meal, and yes, have electrolytes in your water.
posted by bluedaisy at 8:22 PM on February 11 [1 favorite]

Wet your hair, as it dries, it's cooling. Drink water. Acclimate. Wear a hat. If you find a mister helpful, use one - just a pray bottle. Most people don't need extra electrolytes because they eat enough salt and sugar. I eat nuts and dried fruits for magnesium and potassium, because sometimes I get muscle cramps.

If your urine is no darker than apple juice you're reasonably well hydrated.
posted by theora55 at 11:09 PM on February 11

I have long hair that tends toward frizziness, and I find that putting it up in a tight topknot goes a long way toward avoiding severe hot weather discomfort. My completely unchecked guess is that this has something to do with providing better local cooling for my brainstem.
posted by flabdablet at 11:40 PM on February 11

I can tell you one thing that sure didn't work for me: "cooling" sleeves. They felt cool for about a minute and then it was just like wearing a long-sleeve shirt. I tried a neck fan and that helped, a little. The ice vests I looked at had very mixed reviews. The ones with the best reviews were, of course, crazy expensive.

God damn, I hate the summer. Why couldn't it have been global cooling, instead?
posted by Ursula Hitler at 11:41 PM on February 11 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: Report-back: I incorporated many of these suggestions tonight (we did also get a bit of a breeze) and can report a big improvement, only the faintest twinge of a headache. Thanks very much all.
posted by happyfrog at 1:46 AM on February 12 [6 favorites]

Looks like OP is solved, but ftr I spent the first half of last nights game scrolling athletic/hiking outfitters (and Amazon) and it looks like cooling vests are really not for wearing when you’re running/working out/playing, but rather to pre-cool before the event and also to jump into during breaks to bring your temp down.

I didn’t see anything that wouldn’t bounce around and be annoying and ineffective at best, since almost none of them would fit close enough to keep the cold gels next to your body. Nb some of the medical ones might, but they start at a couple hundred dollars. But even the ones worn by Olympic runners and professional tennis players are meant to be worn before the event or on breaks.

WRT something to wear while running or playing — I did see some chiller scarves that hold a cold gel pack on the back of your neck, and I’ll bet that would be effective for awhile.
posted by toodleydoodley at 12:15 PM on February 12

You haven't mentioned the humidity index where you play which is a big factor in heat management. If your sweat can't evaporate because of humidity the temperatures you're mentioning are pretty extreme

Taking a quick look at the NCAA guidelines for practicing and playing in the heat and relative humidity your temperature range are from Caution to Extreme Caution even without relative humidity information. If you have humidity where you play you are probably in the danger zones at the higher end of your temperature range.

Also it is important to know that the NCAA still has a couple of college athletes die from heat related illness every year despite precautions and some of it depends on individual variables - bigger people will retain more heat (American football linemen in particular).

As a runner who has marathon trained in the heat of Chicago summer I will say the most effective cooling strategy, aside from rescheduling to pre-dawn hours which isn't applicable to team sports, was very liberal application of sunscreen.
posted by srboisvert at 1:36 PM on February 12

Hydrating and electrolyte powders are not a short term solution. If hydration or electrolytes at the time of exertion are the difference between feeling okay and not feeling okay, then you have a chronic dehydration/electrolyte problem.

Hydrate always, not just during exertion or excessive heat.
posted by cmoj at 5:33 PM on February 12

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