Playing in the heat
Heat illness occurs when your body produces more heat than it looses. Muscle work when playing football produces heat. The risk of heat illness does not only depend on the temperature, but also on the humidity of the air. With higher humidity, the cooling effect of sweating is reduced. Further, wind and sun radiation influence the effect of high temperatures on your body.
Therefore, to assess the risk of playing, FIFA measures not only the air temperature but what is called the “Wet Bulb Globe Temperature” (WBGT). Risk is considered high with WBGT above 29.4°C and extreme above 32.2°C. At FIFA matches, additional cooling breaks are considered when WBGT is above 31°C.
To protect yourself when playing in hot and humid climates:
- Drink plenty of fluids: Dehydration is a key factor in heat illness. As a rule of thumb, drink at least two litres per day. This volume needs to be increased with playing time and high temperatures.You might need to drink up to six litres and more per day.
- Drink water or isotonic sport drinks.
- Stay out of the sun and in the shade as often and as long as possible.
- Wear light-coloured, loose fitting clothes made of either natural fibres or composite fabrics with high absorption.
- Use sun blockers on all exposed body parts.
- Sleep and rest increase your temperature tolerance.
- Do not lay down during breaks or after the match as this may provoke a collapse.
- To cool down, spatter yourself with water before the match and during breaks.
- Risk is increased if you suffer from asthma. Please inform your team doctor accordingly.
- Immediately seek medical help with shivering, muscle cramps, headache, fatigue or collapse.