So it turns out Qatar is quite hot!
It will surely go down as one of the great mysteries in world football that after a year-long bidding process and millions of pounds spent on getting the location of the 2022 Football World Cup right, FIFA managed to overlook the weather when they awarded it to Qatar.
Needless to say, the decision about whether to move the timing or the location of the world’s most important football tournament will rumble on for months and even years. But to understand the issue properly, we thought we’d take a look at what playing football in the heat of a desert would actually mean for professional players.
The human body runs at its best when the core temperature is around 37 degrees Celsius. Any more than this and it takes its own measures to try to redress the balance – the primary byproduct of which is sweat. While this is a very natural process and one we are all designed to accommodate, there are limits to how much heat the body can combat through perspiration.
Summers in the Gulf states can reach temperatures of up to 50°C – that’s 122 degrees Fahrenheit as opposed to winter temperatures of a more pleasant 24 degrees Celsius – something new FA chief Greg Dyke labelled “dangerous”. Dyke recently stated, “You couldn’t play a football tournament in Qatar in June…But then someone should have worked that out in 2010 when it was awarded.”
Even in his prime, then England captain David Beckham was sick twice in the second half of the game against Ecuador at the 2006 World Cup in Germany through heat exhaustion. And that game was played in well below 40°C.
What does extreme heat do?
Heat exhaustion and heatstroke can be encountered when the body fails to cool itself through sweating. The main influence is dehydration – where water and important blood salts such as potassium are expelled from the body faster than they can be replenished. Early signs of this are intense thirst, dry lips and a dry mouth as well as a loss of the ability to concentrate or even balance correctly.
In more severe cases of heatstroke, a lack of fluids and rising body temperature cause the cells inside the body to break down. In the worst cases this can lead to organ failure, brain damage and even death as the liver, kidneys, heart and brain all suffer.
Heat exhaustion and heatstroke sufferers are advised to remove layers and cool their bodies down as quickly as possible to avoid the body shutting down – something footballers won’t be able to do if they are required to run around for 90 minutes.
While playing sport in extreme heat is not advisable, staying hydrated and avoiding overheating is always important when exercising. Good levels of hydration can have a marked difference on performance – both physically and mentally. Here are a few quick tips:
– Start taking fluids on at least two hours before exercise
– Continue to consume 100-150ml of fluid every 15 minutes during exercise if possible.
– Water is a great way to rehydrate, but intense sweating can also remove important electrolyte minerals from the body. There are now many isotonic drinks on the market able to help balance the concentration of fluids in the body.
– Check your urine after exercise. Pale urine means you have maintained hydration levels well, very yellow urine is a sure sign that you haven’t taken on enough.
– Weighing yourself before and after a game is also a popular way of assessing fluid loss for professional sportsmen and women today. If you are able to do this, try to consume 1.5 litres of fluid for every kilo lost as a result of exercise.
Sweat Testing at Physio4Life
At Physio4Life we have the expertise to carry out sweat tests on sportsmen and women to help them refine their hydration techniques and allow them to maintain optimum performance in tricky climate conditions.
Our technology and analysis is the same as that used by professional athletes such as Premiership football and rugby teams, Olympians, cyclists and Formula 1 drivers. But attention to detail when it comes to hydration can also make significant difference to amateur sportsmen.
If you’re interested in sweat testing, call us at Physio4Life on 0208 704 5998 to find out more about how we can help. Or Book an Appointment now.
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