Written By: Adam Gresh, DPT, Clinical Director of SportsCare Mountain Lakes
Running in the heat can be a dangerous task that can cause things like nausea, dizziness, muscle cramps, and sweating more than normal, which are symptoms of heat exhaustion.
In this article, I offer some tips to combat heat exhaustion and safely prepare for your runs.
Combatting heat exhaustion involves simple methods. Wearing light colors with breathable material is proven to be an effective way of combatting heat exhaustion.
It is also important to shade the head and the eyes with hats and sunglasses. Along with this, sunscreen with at least SPF 30 will protect your skin from dangerous burns.
Hydration, both prior to and during running, is arguably the most important method for countering heat exhaustion. In addition to drinking water, sports drinks that contain electrolytes are beneficial because they increase the water-absorption rate, as well as replace the electrolytes lost in sweat.
Preparation for running is an effective way to combat heat exhaustion. It is important to know that runners need to gradually expose themselves to the heat in order for their bodies to have ample time to adapt.
For example, increasing the duration and intensity of running for eight to fourteen days gives the body time to decrease heart rate, decrease core temperature, and increase sweat rate before a full intensity run.
Seeking grass and shade during a run is also an effective way of combatting heat exhaustion. After a run, resting while applying a cold pack to the head and neck decreases body temperature, which helps to cool off and recover.
Restoring the salt balance with food and drinks containing sodium is also an effective way of recovery. As always, please consult with your exercise professional for further tips or questions.