The majority of the tennis season is played outdoors, forcing players to contend with extremes in weather. While the wind and cool temperatures may adversely affect play, nothing impacts players more than hot and humid weather. Matches can take more than ninety minutes, and in hot conditions at such intense levels of activity the body’s ability to cool itself is pushed to the limit.
The normal mechanism by which you stay cool is by sweating, where evaporation of perspiration has a cooling effect. Humidity impairs this function and results in rising body temperature.
The spectrum of disorders caused by extended exposure to high temperatures and humidity goes from a mild rash to heat syncope, to heat exhaustion, and the most severe, heat stroke which occurs when body temperatures rise above 104⁰ F. Heat exhaustion results from excessive loss of water and salt due to profuse sweating.
Heat syncope can result because the body’s volume of water is depleted. It can happen even from prolonged standing in extreme heat or a sudden change in body position, which can cause fainting.
Heat rash results from the skin being irritated by the heat and humidity.
If you feel excessively hot, the simple solution is to take a break, stop playing immediately and get out of the sun. Unfortunately professionals do not have this option.
When the sun is up with a heat index greater than 90⁰ F, play smart:
- Wear a hat
- Wear light-colored clothing made of material that does not trap the heat
- Keep hydrated, avoiding caffeinated beverages
- Stay in the shade during breaks and keep cool with ice packs
- Use sunblock when playing
- If you begin to feel any abnormal symptoms, ask for immediate help
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