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How to avoid heat stroke ?

What is heat stroke?

Heat stroke occurs when the runner's body no longer has the ability to cool down or lower its own body temperature. Heat stroke risk rises with intense heat, bright sunshine, wind and humidity. If your body overheats when you are running, fever will quickly set in, bringing with it an intense dizziness which can quickly lead to a loss of consciousness.
Early symptoms of heat stroke include:
- fatigue, dizziness, nausea and headaches;
- redness or paleness in the face;
- very warm, dry skin;
- Intense shaking and sweating; and
intense thirst and insecure, cautious running. You might become unstable, irritable, euphoric or even mentally or physically unsettled.

If your body is not treated or cooled down, heat stroke can lead to serious injury or even death. It is important to note that a lack of consciousness punctuated by seizures is the sign of serious dehydration, which alters the operations of the central nervous system.


What causes heat stroke?

When the human body gets extremely warm, it uses perspiration to cool itself down. When you exercise in the summer, in addition to the warmth of the air around you, you produce energy and heat which must be regularly and satisfactorily removed from the body. In warm, humid conditions, sweat does not evaporate as well, and the large quantities of sweat make evaporation more difficult. Consequently, sweat gets stuck in the pores of your skin and the body overheats.


The best ways to prevent heat stroke:

1. Drink water regularly and constantly in order to maintain your normal hydration levels: In order to fight the heat and help your body evaporate sweat effectively, drink sufficient quantities of liquids before, during and after your run. You will lose fluids during every run, no matter how short it is.

Runners need to carefully monitor their hydration levels

- Before exercising: Drink a sufficient quantity of mineral water two hours before your run and during the days leading up to it.

- During exercise: drink small sips of water (at a temperature of about 15 °C) approximately every ten minutes.

- After exercising: Make up for lost fluids. The best option is an energy drink fortified with minerals.

Remember: To avoid getting dehydrated early in your run: before running or training, avoid excessively heavy meals, large quantities of alcohol, and coffee.

Have you heard about the WBGT index?
Sport federations have developed a good method for calculating the risks of heat stroke and dehydration during your run with a special tool, the WBGT index. This tool considers several environmental factors, including atmospheric pressure, wind, humidity and the air temperature, to calculate a value (a temperature in Celsius). If the value of the index is between 28° and 30°, runners must be alert and the run should include various strategies, including longer breaks, advice from event organisers and readily available drinks. Furthermore, if the WBGT index is above 30° Celsius, the run should be cancelled. 

2. Wear lightweight, breathable clothes to keep air flowing around your body :
No matter what time of year it is, don't feel you need to stick to tight, waterproof or cotton clothing. These fabrics and styles prevent sweat from evaporating.

Always wear suitable running apparel.

The technical materials and fabrics used in running apparel are designed and tested to promote ideal air circulation and the constant removal of body heat.

Always wear a cap. 
When running in hot weather, a cap will protect your head from the intense heat of the sun. It is also a natural way of making you sweat. Plus, when your head sweats, this perspiration will keep your entire body cool.
An important warning about overheating:
You should stop running immediately if you are experiencing the first symptoms of heat stroke.


The three-step plan for avoiding heat stroke :

Protect yourself: Stay in the shade, and if you can, in a well-ventilated place where air is flowing. If not, use a towel to fan yourself.

Stay hydrated: drink small amounts of water every five minutes.

Cool down: by splashing water on your body to cool yourself down quickly. 

Conclusion: Heat stroke can have serious consequences, so it is important to know how to recognise it and to always take it seriously. In addition to normal preventive measures, like drinking regularly to stay hydrated and wearing loose, breathable clothing, if you see any symptoms of heat stroke, including dizziness, nausea, paleness, or irritability, immediately stop running. Follow the three-step plan: protect yourself, stay hydrated, and cool down


Running in the summer... Safety, health, and fun!