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When you finish this chapter you should be able to

  • Describe the physiology of hyperthermia.

  • Recognize the clinical signs of heat stress and how they can be prevented.

  • Identify the causes of hypothermia and the major cold disorders and how they can be prevented.

  • Examine the problems that high altitude might present to the athlete, and explain how they can be managed.

  • Review how an athlete should be protected from exposure to the sun.

  • Describe precautions that should be taken in a lightning storm.

  • List the problems that air pollution presents to the athlete and how they can be avoided.

  • Discuss what effect circadian dysrhythmia can have on athletes and the best procedures for handling this problem.

  • Compare the effect of synthetic versus natural turf on the incidence of injury.


  • hyperthermia

  • humidity

  • conduction

  • convection

  • radiation

  • evaporation

  • hydration

  • euhydration

  • hyperhydration

  • hypohydration

  • exercise-associated hyponatremia

  • acclimatization

  • heat index

  • psychrometer

  • exercise-associated muscle (heat) cramps

  • exertional heat exhaustion

  • exertional heatstroke

  • hypothermia

  • wind chill

  • frostbite

  • frost nip

  • chilblain

  • altitude sickness

  • sickle-cell trait

  • sun protection factor (SPF)

  • lightning

  • emergency action plan (EAP)

  • thunder

  • air pollution

  • ambient temperature

  • circadian dysrhythmia (jet lag)


One of the primary responsibilities of the athletic trainer in preventing injuries is to make certain that the practice and playing environment is as safe as it can possibly be. Certainly no one has control over the weather. However, the potential dangers of having athletes engage in practices or competitions when adverse weather or environmental conditions exist cannot be ignored. Ignoring or minimizing the potential threat to the health and well-being of athletes who practice or compete under adverse environmental conditions can have serious legal consequences should a situation arise that results in injury to an athlete.

Environmental stress can adversely affect performance and in some instances can pose a serious health threat.44 The environmental categories that are of concern to athletic trainers, particularly those involved in outdoor sports, are hyperthermia, hypothermia, altitude, exposure to the sun, lightning storms, air pollution, and circadian dysrhythmia (jet lag).


Hyperthermia is a condition in which, for one reason or another, body temperature is elevated. Over the years, hyperthermia has caused a number of deaths in athletes at the secondary-school, collegiate, and professional levels.34

It is vitally important that the athletic trainer and the coaching staff have knowledge about temperature and humidity factors to assist them in planning practice. The athletic trainer must clearly understand when environmental heat and humidity are at a dangerous level and must make recommendations to the coaches accordingly to prevent the occurrence of heat-related illnesses.95,98 In addition, the athletic trainer must recognize and properly manage the clinical signs and symptoms of heat-related illnesses. It is ...

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