In my last article I talked about the dangers of sun exposure whilst playing tennis in Tenerife’s climate. This week, I want to talk about avoiding dehydration.
Body fluids account for 70 percent of the average human body, and you use these liquids as the main source for getting rid of extra heat. When the outside temperature raises your body’s core temperature, your body reacts by trying to lose heat through perspiration and other means. Intense exercise and especially hot conditions, however, can put your body’s thermostat at risk of overheating and leave you dehydrated.
Dehydration increases the risk of heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Heat cramps are painful, brief muscle cramps that can take several minutes to pass. Heat exhaustion can lead to dizziness, paleness, nausea, vomiting, and fainting. A heat stroke is the most severe case of heat-related illnesses. People who are suffering from a heat stroke usually have very high temperatures and may be delirious, unconscious, or, in worst case scenarios, having seizures.
Tennis courts can range anywhere from 10 to 20 degrees hotter than the actual, off-court temperature. Humidity, clarity, court reflection, and court colour are all factors in the on-court temperature, but the playing surface generally radiates more heat.
When and How Much to Drink
During your match, the water fountain could become your best friend. Here are some tips on how to ensure you stay hydrated:
- Drink water throughout the day and drink one pint before your match or practice.
- Avoid drinking alcohol or caffeine in excess, because they will dehydrate your body.
- Drink water at each change over. Think of water like petrol, do not wait until you have run out!
- Have a small damp hand cloth in your bag (inside a plastic bag) and use it every so often to wipe your hands/face.
Staying well-hydrated will ensure that your body can work efficiently and get rid of extra heat. Dehydration makes it extremely difficult for your body to cool down, so make sure you are constantly flushing fluids into your system. Clothing has a huge impact on your body temperature, as well. American Football players are notoriously prone to heat strokes, because they wear uniforms and heavy padding that covers their entire body.
When playing tennis, wear light clothing and keep an extra shirt in your bag in case it is very hot or humid. Wet clothing sticks to your skin and prevents your pores from expelling heat, so change your shirt if necessary. I always try to wear a dri fit tennis shirt, which keeps you cool and does not retain the perspiration.
While it’s extremely vital to understand the importance of sun prevention and proper hydration, don’t let these aspects of the game scare you away from playing. Many players disregard their health and believe they are invincible “” and they are at serious risk for doing so. If you have any questions or concerns, always seek advice from a doctor. Education, awareness, and healthy routines will help you enjoy a tennis match while staying healthy.