Friday, June 19, 2009

Avoid heat injuries in judo and aikido

Photo courtesy of IntangibleArts
Yep - it's that time of year again. Summer is just about here and we are languishing under day-after-day of 96+ degree temperature, combined with humidity that you can swim through. In such an environment, we have to turn on the air conditioner full blast hours before class in order to get the temps down to a survivable level - and it's still pretty hot in the dojo.
During the summer I am not a stickler for uniforms. We declare it to be tee-shirt season at aikido class and kids judo (most of our adult judo happens very early in the morning). It would just be suicidal to try to wear those oven mitts during the late afternoon classes. Sure, there's the down-side to it, we sweat all over each other. But it's either that or die of heatstroke.
Which brings me to the real reason for this post - to warn y'all to take some precautions against heat injury during the summer at your dojo. Some common sense hints you might consider, include:
  • Dispense with the traditional uniforms for the summertime. Implement tee-shirt classes.
  • Consider rescheduling more of your classes to early morning or evening after sundown.
  • Consider shortening classes or working less strenuous activities during the summer.
  • Make students, instructors, and observers bring bottles of water or gatorade with them and encourage them to drink. Watch out, though - drinking too much clear water while sweating can cause electrolyte problems - especially in children or low body mass adults.
  • You don't lose significant heat through your teeshirt until it becomes wet with sweat, so stop changing your wet shirt for a dry one.
  • Watch for the signs: red or very pale skin, confusion, irritability, headache, dizziness, fast heartrate and breathing, muscle cramps
  • Know the first aid: move the victim to a cool environment, remove clothes, try to get them to drink cool water or gatorade, pour cool water onto them, and put a fan on them. If they don't get better soon, or if it gets worse, call 911 and get them to the ER rapidly.
Patrick Parker, is a Christian, husband, father, judo and aikido teacher, Program Director for a Cardiac Rehab, and a Ph.D. Contact: or phone 601.248.7282
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