June 2020 - 26

CLIMATE CONTROL
HANDLING HEAT ACCLIMATION
IN ATHLETES
By Rich Maclone, contributing writer
The entire sports world hopes and
prays for a return to normalcy by the
Autumn of 2020 following a spring
and summer rife with cancellations
and disappointments. A return to
the former status quo would mean
that fall athletes will be gearing up
for their seasons, with practices
beginning in the dog days of summer.
Dr. Douglas Casa, a professor
of kinesiology and the director of
athletic training education at the
University of Connecticut, believes
that teams are entering uncharted
territory this fall in the wake of the
coronavirus pandemic. Casa, also the
chief executive officer at the Korey
Stringer Institute, whose mission is
educating about and preventing heatrelated
illnesses and issues among
athletes, said that great care must
be taken by everyone involved this
coming summer to keep players safe.
" This is one of the most unique
years in history, with the prolonged
absence of sports and conditioning, "
Casa said. " How are we going to phase
people back? That's a great concern. "
Dr. Casa said that this coming
summer will bring more challenges
than ever for student-athletes and the
coaching staff that guide them thanks
to the COVID-19 pandemic and the
quarantines that accompanied it. Dr.
Casa said that coaches should be
prepared to see that their athletes,
for the most part, will not have the
same level of fitness that they had in
previous years entering the start of
the fall sports season.
" So many football players use the
spring - playing lacrosse, or baseball,
or track and field - to stay in shape for
football season and then continue to
work out over the summer. This year
they've lost those opportunities to play
those sports in school, and have not
been able to keep up with their usual
regiments, " Casa said. " Coaching staff
should be ready for that. "
Casa added that coaches should
expect that a portion of their rosters
will be up to speed, but that number,
he expects, will be lower than previous
seasons. The bottom of the roster, the
players that do little to ready themselves
for the season before practices begin,
might be more profound than the
normal year, he thought.
Those players are the ones most
at risk for having heat-related health
issues. According to studies done
by the Stringer Institute, it has been
determined that athletes that have
lower levels of fitness are more likely
to be affected. Additionally they are
the ones that typically have done the
least amount of work to condition
their bodies to deal with the higher
summer temperatures.
Dr. Casa said that heat
acclimation by athletes is the best
way for them to prepare themselves
for the rigors of August and
September practices and games.
" They need to be focusing on June
and July, " he said. " When you're first
exposed to heat, you want to go in
slowly...starting out with exercise
during the cooler parts of the day and
then working up to exercising during
the hotter hours of the day. "
According to the doctor, football
and cross country are the two sports
26 JUNE 2020

June 2020

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