Most of the team here at Morley Chiropractic Clinic partake in one sport or another. As previously mentioned head chiropractor, Martin, is a keen runner and triathlete. Hailing from South Africa he is more than used to running in the heat, but this latest heatwave has come as a surprise even to him! Therefore, we wanted to write a post specifically about running in the heat, what the risks are and how best to cope with it.
What are the effects of running in the heat?
Our bodies work extremely hard to keep its core temperature within a small set parameter. When we run, and exercise, our core temperature increases. In most cases this isn’t an issue, but when there is atmospheric heat also increasing our body temperature, things get a little bit different.
If it is warm when you try and exercise your body will do everything it can to slow you down, or even make you stop so that it can cool down. If you persist then one tactic the body adopts to keep cool is to move more blood to the surface of the skin so that the evaporating sweat can cool it down – this is why we flush red when we run. But this means exercise is harder as there is less blood flowing to your muscles – even moving at a slower pace you are getting the same, if not a harder workout.
Humidity is also a factor – is the air is humid and damp then the sweat-evaporation process won’t be as efficient and thus your body temp will rise.
So, what can you do when running in the heat?
The biggest and most obvious piece of advice is to hydrate. Due to your increased temperature you will be perspiring (sweating) a lot more than usual. Fluids will literally be leaking out of your body – it is vital that these get replaced. Take a water bottle with you – if you are running a long way then think about investing in a water carrying backpack or race vest. Alternatively, plan your route so that you stop by places to re-hydrate, such as a shop or at home.
However, when you sweat you don’t just loose water from your system, you also loose essential salts and sugars, known as electrolytes. It is just as vital that you get these back into your system as it is water, as your body needs the right balance to function properly. Cramping is often associated with a lack of electrolytes in the body.
Then you can try and keep cool – pour water over yourself to help keep the skin cool, wear a hat to protect your head, eyes and face from the glare of the sun and wear light clothing. All of these factors combine to help regulate your body temperature.
We hope this post helps you get out and enjoy your runs a bit more this summer. But if in doubt about anything always err on the side of caution – getting too hot can have some extremely detrimental effects on the body. Keep cool and be safe out there!