Temperatures are starting to heat up here in the Midwest, and I am sure all over the country. I recently played in the Wisco Disco tournament in Madison, WI where the heat index was in the middle 90’s. During and after the tournament many of the ladies were asking how to stay cool and hydrated in those conditions. Some ladies were suffering physically from the heat and humidity. The team at Ladies First Disc Golf thought it would be a great idea to do the research for you! Check out these tips for beating the heat during your rounds so that you can stay safe.
Regulate Your Temperature
The goal for everyone playing in oppressive heat indices is to make sure your body can cool itself. If your body struggles to regulate its temperature, you can start to suffer from heat-related conditions of heat cramps, heat exhaustion, or heat stroke. As the turtle in Finding Nemo says, “you’re going to have a bad day!” Your body cools itself by the evaporation of sweat from your skin, so with humidity less evaporation occurs making it difficult to keep your body temp normal.
A key way to assist your body is by hydrating like mad before, during, and after your rounds. If you have been to a PDGA Major, you have heard Chuck’s battle cry, “Be a grape, not a raisin”. Since there are many factors involved with how much to drink, a general rule of thumb is to drink about a half liter of water every hour; up this amount if heat index is really high or you are playing a strenuous course. You can also gauge how much water you should drink after a round by weighing yourself before and after your round, then replace each pound lost with 20 ounces of water.
Hydration Beyond Water
To sport drink or not to sport drink, that is a tricky question. There are many articles out there about sport drinks, electrolyte mixes, etc. I think it comes down to the weather conditions and personal preference. Water is your top priority, and I suggest trying sports drinks and/or a variety of electrolyte mixes to see if you perform better with certain products. I have been playing disc golf for over 17 years so I have tried my fair share of products. I have found sport drinks such as Powerade/Gatorade to be too heavy on my gut and feel like a whale after drinking.
I also have developed an allergy to certain fake sugars such as sucralose and stevia, so I cannot tolerate the “no sugar added” mixes/tablets, but I really liked the electrolyte tablets from NUUN as you could just carry them in your bag and add to water as needed. I gave out tablets to my card mates at the Wisco Disco and they loved them. Now I use the NUUN Performance Hydration powder. I can add it to my water bottle as needed, and it gives me the electrolytes I need to re-hydrate. It also has the carbs I need for energy being a masters-age player.
Another tip I found while researching, if you like to be frugal, is to use a small amount of Celtic Sea Salt to add minerals/electrolytes to your water.
Erin Oakley’s tip is to add fruit chunks to water, and then freeze it overnight. You will have some nutrients in cool water for your afternoon round. So keep chugging fluids, and try out a few options to see what works best to keep you hydrated and performing well on the course.
Heat Exhaustion Know the Signs
I went down with heat exhaustion at the Mid America Open in steaming Columbia, Missouri several years ago. I had the classic symptoms of dizziness, fatigue, dry mouth, muscle cramps, and nausea. Luckily one of my card mates knew about cooling the body quickly at pulse points, and got me through the last 2 holes to get to tournament central for shade/water. Putting cool water, ice packs, or cool rags on pulse points for several minutes cools down the blood so that as it travels along the blood stream it cools the body. Easily accessible pulse points include the inner wrists, the neck, inner elbows, and the back of the knees.
Obviously the easy one would be to put a cool towel/rag on your neck. I have had great results with rubbing ice or putting a cold towel on my wrists to cool down as well. My friend, Nadine, freezes damp towels and then carries them in her cart to use on her neck during rounds.
Next, finding shade/cooler spaces on the course as often as possible will help in keeping your body cool. Veteran Erin Oakley says that “heat stroke is no joke”. Erin suggests using an umbrella if you are on an open course. We also joke about “shade golf” or “master’s golf”, and finding shade anywhere you can as you move down the fairway. The temperature swing between being out in the sun and in the shade can be a 5-10 degree difference. So take advantage of the shade when you can.
Better Safe Than Sorry
Finally, be aware of how you are feeling both mentally and physically, and ask for help if you need. While caddying during Am Worlds one year, a woman on the card ahead went down. I called the TD to send help, and then when the situation took a turn for the worse I called 911. Better to be safe than sorry. (Another pro tip: always have the TD’s phone number with you for emergencies). Please keep an eye on your fellow card mates as well—we are all family. Notice if they are struggling and offer suggestions to them. Many times someone suffering from heat exhaustion or heat stroke cannot focus or think clearly and they may need some assistance. If you are really concerned, get them in the shade, try some cooling on pulse points, and call the TD. The TD may opt to pull them off the course, and possibly call for medic.
Keeping cool and hydrated during the hot summer rounds will not only keep you performing better, but can keep you from some serious heat-related illnesses. Use these tips, do some research, and ask your fellow disc golfers for suggestions. Watch for more articles from the Ladies First Disc Golf Team. Keep sparkling (and hydrated) on the courses!
Credit to the author & photographer:
Tracey “TraLo” Lopez has been discing for over 18 years. She competes in the FP40 division and is sponsored by Ladies First Disc Golf. She has run disc golf clinics, youth leagues, women’s leagues; assisted/volunteered with tournaments; written disc golf/wellness articles and has done public speaking engagements. TraLo was a fitness/wellness coordinator for a parks and recreation department for 17 years, moving to public works 4 years ago. She has recently been certified as a Life/Wellness Coach and re-certified as a Personal Trainer, to continue her passion for wellness & mindfulness and bring it to the disc golf community. Watch for her upcoming Blog: On Center w/ TraLo.
Thank you to Lauren E. Lakeberg for the use of photo’s.
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