We are approaching the equator of summer in Spain And, how could it be otherwise, the thermometer has soared in much of the peninsula and island territories. During the holidays, we usually have more free time to enjoy our hobbies and if you are reading this post, there is no doubt that tennis is one of them.
The problem is that, during most of the hours of the day, the sun burns beautifully and makes it quite difficult for us to practice sports outdoors. Fooling around in ASPETAR, an online sports medicine journal, I have found an interesting article on the impact of extreme heat in tennis. I am going to base myself on it to develop some concepts that we must take into account when playing tennis in very hot conditions.
Heat stress and thermoregulation
Human beings are homeothermic, that is, we can maintain a stable body temperature, regardless of environmental conditions. If, when it is hot, the body is capable of thermoregulation through sweating, we say that the conditions are in the prescriptive zone. In this way, the internal temperature remains stable, but the heart rate and the level of sweating increase with heat stress.
When the environmental temperature rises considerably, the body can get to increase its temperature in a dangerous way; If, in addition, we are playing tennis, one of the most immediate consequences that we are going to experience is reduction of effective playing time (the time the ball is in play). Both your rival and you, you are going to try finish points as soon as possible and you are going to lengthen the transition time between point and point so that the body has less difficulty to thermoregulate.
In the development of a tennis match, we are going to have to make a great physical effort, both with the upper and lower body; we sprint, brake, turn, hit, restart, etc. As the game progresses and the intensity grows, we will start to feel fatigue. Fatigue can be central (associated with functional alterations of the central nervous system) and peripheral (muscular). As explained Julien D. Périard in your article, the feeling of fatigue is not exacerbated by weather conditions, but because of the toughness of the game.
When the environmental temperature is extreme and the upper limit of the prescriptive zone is exceeded, our body can stop thermoregulating correctly and have a hyperthermia (abnormally high body temperature). In this case, it is much easier for us to become dehydrated if we do not replace fluids frequently. We should not rely on the sensation of thirst as an indicator of hydration, because, based on what Périard says, “We may not be thirsty until we have lost 1.5 liters of body water.” One of the advantages that tennis has is that breaks occur frequently, in lane changes. At that time, we take the opportunity to sit and drink, so it is easier for us to stay hydrated and to reduce heat stress.