A number of factors lead to sporting injuries or suboptimal performance. The following links provide in-depth information on how to optimize your performance while minimizing your risk of
injury:

 

Improving Athletic Performance Through Nutritional Supplements

Athletes looking to optimize their ability to cope with the warmer temperatures during strenuous physical activity can benefit from supplementation. Electrolyte loss, free radical formation and the need for biochemical participants like vitamins and minerals is heavily increased. At minimum, athletes should consume a complete multi-vitamin/mineral supplement containing generous amounts of basic antioxidants like beta-carotene, vitamin C and vitamin E. This should also contain adequate amounts of electrolytes such as sodium, potassium and chloride. Active athletes finding it difficult to maintain their body weight during the summertime will find a weight gainer indispensable. Those in need of an energy boost should give energy bars and carbohydrate powders/drinks a whirl. When it comes to protein, there is no question that demands are increased under the extra stress of exercising in the heat. A recent study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise found branched-chain amino acid supplementation could prolong moderate exercise performance in the heat. Branched-chain amino acids (leucine, isoleucine, and valine) are anti-catabolic essential aminos which are in high demand anytime the body undergoes physical stress. Alternatively, a high quality protein powder with added branched-chain amino acids can be taken.

Heat Acclimatization

Many experienced athletes have also utilized heat acclimatization in order to minimize heat-related illnesses. Similar to your body adjusting to a change in altitude, heat acclimatization depends on the adaptive powers of the body. Over a period of 10-14 days, the athlete gradually increases the intensity and duration of the workout while in the new environment. This allows the body to respond and successfully adjust to the increased demands placed on the body by the heat.

 

Preventing Dehydration

Athletes looking to optimize their ability to cope with the warmer temperatures during strenuous physical activity can benefit from supplementation. Electrolyte loss, free radical formation and the
need for biochemical participants like vitamins and minerals is heavily increased. At minimum, athletes should consume a complete multi-vitamin/mineral supplement containing generous amounts of
basic antioxidants like beta-carotene, vitamin C and vitamin E. This should also contain adequate amounts of electrolytes such as sodium, potassium and chloride. Active athletes finding it
difficult to maintain their body weight during the summertime will find a weight gainer indispensable. Those in need of an energy boost should give energy bars and carbohydrate powders/drinks a
whirl. When it comes to protein, there is no question that demands are increased under the extra stress of exercising in the heat. A recent study published in Medicine & Science in Sports &
Exercise found branched-chain amino acid supplementation could prolong moderate exercise performance in the heat. Branched-chain amino acids (leucine, isoleucine, and valine) are anti-catabolic
essential aminos which are in high demand anytime the body undergoes physical stress. Alternatively, a high quality protein powder with added branched-chain amino acids can be taken.

Heat Acclimatization

Many experienced athletes have also utilized heat acclimatization in order to minimize
heat-related illnesses. Similar to your body adjusting to a change in altitude, heat acclimatization depends on the adaptive powers of the body. Over a period of 10-14 days, the athlete gradually
increases the intensity and duration of the workout while in the new environment. This allows the body to respond and successfully adjust to the increased demands placed on the body by the heat.

 

Ultraviolet Radiation Protection

Ultraviolet (uv) radiation from the sun has damaging and potentially deadly effects on the largest organ in humans, the skin. Ultraviolet radiation is to the skin, what a flame is to a marshmallow.
Almost one million cases of skin cancer are now identified in the U.S. each year. Retinal degeneration and cataract formation, both of which lead to blindness, are also very prevalent in today's
society. Both are also largely associated with uv-exposure. Considering the amount of sun exposure athletes tend to accumulate, and all while sporting minimal clothing, extra precautions to protect
the "uv-vulnerable" tissues like the skin, lips and eyes are essential.

So how does the athlete combat uv-radiation? Well let's just say protection is everything. This means wearing proper eye protection every time exercise takes place outdoors. It also means regular
use of sunscreens for skin and lip protection. With so many sunscreens on the shelves, it gets a little tricky deciding which ones for you. For starters, pick a sunscreen with a
sun-protectant-factor (SPF) of no less than 15. Many sunscreens now contain antioxidants found to enhance uv-protection. The most effective antioxidant photoprotectors to look for include vitamin
C, vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol), and polyphenol extracts from green tea. Oral supplementation of these and other popular antioxidants have also been shown effective in protecting one from
uv-damage.

Here's What To Do:

  • consider using sunscreen containing the antioxidants vitamin C & E, and polyphenol extracts from green tea
  • take a multi-vitamin/antioxidant supplement including vitamins A, C, E and beta-carotene
  • avoid outdoor activities from 11am to 3pm
  • wear uv-a and uv-b eye protection
  • if you must wear contacts be sure they have uv-absorbers
  • wear sun protective clothing including hats
  • use a skin and lip sunscreen with a SPF 15
  • periodically check your entire body for abnormal changes of moles and skin texture

 

Heat Fatigue/Exhaustion/Stroke Prevention

Heat also has the potential to be of great danger to the outdoor athlete, especially during the summer. Side effects range from sluggishness and fatigue to dehydration and potentially fatal heat
stroke. Fortunately for us athletes, heat-related illnesses are fairly easy to prevent and treat.

Heat Fatigue

One such heat-related illness is heat fatigue. It's generally caused by fluid loss and
responds well to rehydration and rest. Because an inadequate diet or caloric intake is common with the summer athlete, it too should be evaluated when sluggishness and fatigue are experienced. Like
heat-related fatigue, heat cramps are also a result of insufficient fluid intake. These painful muscle spasms generally occur in hot and/or humid environments when the athlete overexerts him or
herself.

Heat Exhaustion

Heat exhaustion is another common heat-related illness experienced by athletes in the
summer. Simply speaking, you're working the body so hard it's just too damn hot to carry on! Technically speaking, it's a group of symptoms that occur when your body's rate of heat production is
greater than it's rate of heat dissipation. Symptoms generally begin to occur when the body's core temperature rises above 102-F. The onset is sudden with the athlete becoming clumsy as well as
confused. Additional symptoms include headache, dizziness, chills, nausea, vomiting and weakness. Signs of heat exhaustion are an ash-gray color of the skin, lowered blood pressure, and a rapid
pulse. Immediate rehydration, body cooling, and rest is crucial.

Heat Stroke

Heat stroke can result when the body's temperature rises above 105-F, resulting in extensive
tissue damage to the body. Often, the onset of heat stroke can be abrupt with the athlete experiencing a severely altered mental status or possibly a sudden loss of consciousness. Death can occur
rapidly unless rapid cooling and rehydration is immediately performed. Full body immersion in cool water with simultaneous rehydration with cool fluids is most effective.

Here's What To Do:

  • maintain a nutritious diet consisting of fruits, vegetables and adequate protein
  • avoid excessive intakes of simple sugars and fat
  • bring and consume adequate amounts of highly digestible foods and fluids for consumption before, during and after activities (30-60 grams of carbs should be consumed for every hour of exercise)
  • take a multi-mineral supplement
  • supplement with branched chain amino acids to prolong exercise performance in the heat
  • get plenty of rest the night prior to strenuous activity
  • contact local weather advisory the day prior to the event
  • cancel strenuous activities on unusually hot/humid days
  • wear appropriate clothing
  • shorten warm-up periods
  • utilize heat acclimatization
  • don't overexert yourself-know your physical limitations
  • stay aware of the signs and symptoms for heat illness
  • if any symptoms of heat illness are detected, immediately rehydrate, consume some carbohydrates, and rest
  • if heat stroke is suspected, cool rapidly and rehydrate and get immediate medical attention