NORTHWEST ARKANSAS (KFSM) -- As summer heats up and local football players prepare to gear up for practice, dozens of coaches and PE teachers got ready for the year ahead at the annual sports medicine summit.
Thursday’s ( July 28) summit in Rogers covered concussions, hydration, nutrition and fitness.
Mercy sports medicine director Dr. Wade Fox said the main concern this time of year are heat related illnesses, but they've come a long way in educating both coaches and parents about how to intervene.
“One of the most important ways the body cools and controls temperature is through hydration and cooling through sweat, etc. and if you aren`t properly hydrated your risk of heat related illness goes up substantially,” Fox said.
Fayetteville High School head coach Bill Blankenship said with football practice starting Monday (August 1) in what`s expected to be extreme temperatures they are going to start practice early enough to try and beat the heat. He said they will also stay diligent to make sure all the players are hydrated.
“Anything that we can prevent we've got to do a great job of that and I think the longer I coach the more I want to be diligent and the more I want my staff to be diligent to prevent anything we have the capability of doing,” Blankenship said.
Dr. Fox said kids are playing more sports than ever before.
“They are having more practices year round and there is more pressure even at a younger age than ever before, so we want to be on the forefront of how can we be as safe and providing a safe environment as we can,” Fox said.
Bentonville High School head coach Jody Grant said to make sure everyone stays safe they will also start practice early in the mornings, have tents set up for shade, hydration stations and take frequent breaks.
“You've got to treat each of these kids as if they are your own kid and you've got to protect them in that way," Grant said. "You know these kids will do anything for you to be part of the special program and do things right. So you have to be smart with them and put them in situations that they are taking care of their body.”
Schools across the state also follow rules to acclimate players to the heat which means students won't practice football in their full gear until their sixth practice.
Dr. Fox said it's not uncommon for players to lose ten to fifteen pounds of water weight after practice. So it's important to replace those fluids with proper hydration.
He also said it's not only important to hydrate before physical activities, but also during and after.