It's football tradition to endure two-a-day practices each summer to prep for the upcoming season, but with the sun beating down and players wearing more than a dozen pounds of gear, these practices have come under fire.
CNN recently reported that 35 football players have died due to heat since 1995, and coaches are increasingly under scrutiny. This week a Louisville, Kentucky, high school coach is on trial on charges of reckless homicide because of the heat-exhaustion-related death of a 15-year-old player.
"It's a tragedy that these deaths continue to happen when the science is there to help avoid them," says Anna Hartman, manager of performance physical therapy services at Athletes' Performance. "Athletic trainers are at the forefront of research, prevention, and education of exertional heat illness."
Just yesterday the Today Show's Tiki Barber and Dr. Nancy Snyderman discussed heat acclimatization issues, including new guidelines from the National Athletic Trainers' Association.
While some believe that two-a-days are necessary, others say they're too dangerous. What everyone does agree on is the need for precautions. Keys to prevention include acclimating to the weather, increasing aerobic fitness, improving hydration habits, and being aware of the risks, Hartman says.
She offers these tips for trainers, coaches, and athletes as well:
-Encourage pre-cooling in the cold plunge prior to afternoon workouts
-Discourage additional use of saunas, steam rooms and hot tubs
-Encourage frequent water breaks in the shade
-Discourage sweat suits, dark clothing and non-breathable materials
-Encourage athletes to keep track of their hydration levels
-Discourage the use of alcohol, and educate players on the effects of alcohol on hydration levels
-Decrease warm-up activities (the athlete's core temperature is already increased due to environment)