19-20/9/2020

One challenge, lots of adventures

You and your team, one weekend, a 360-km relay race along the Vltava River, from Šumava all the way to Prague

When you’re about to collapse

16. 7. 2020

Let me follow up on the previous article about electrolytes and collapses that are caused, not by a lack of energy, but by the inability of that energy to circulate through the body.

When you’re about to collapse

Severe sodium deficiency isn’t the only reason for collapsing, so let’s take a closer look at the process. Fluid loss isn’t a local problem, and sweating means that fluids are disappearing from our entire body. This leads to denser blood, which is a problem during sports because it can’t flow through tissues and deliver oxygen as easily. The human body naturally maintains an ideal volume of blood in its bloodstream. When the blood thickens due to dehydration, its volume and pressure drop. As a result, the heart starts working harder to ensure proper circulation. This extra strain can lead to fibrillation, which is a quivering or irregular heartbeat when the heart is unable to suck in or release enough blood, and blood circulation stops. When the heart stops completely to relax, it can be restarted with artificial massage. In cases of fibrillation, when the heart is cramped, massage doesn’t affect it and the situation has to be resolved using a defibrillator. In summer, high temperatures and sunshine can be dangerous as well. While an ice-hockey player easily sweats out up to two litres of liquids in an arena cooled to 2 °C (their only problem would be the loss of electrolytes), high temperatures can easily cause the body to overheat. Just like a computer when its fans stop working, if the temperature gets too high, your brain turns off and you lose consciousness. In this case, breathing and blood circulation may remain undisturbed. When you lose consciousness, though, your muscles relax and, if you are lying on your back, gravity can cause your tongue to drop down and block your airway. More on this next time, though.

How to avoid collapsing? Both physical and mental preparation before the race is important. And during the race it’s important to:

  • keep drinking sports drinks, not only water!
  • stay cooled down (e.g. pour water on yourselves)
  • protect yourselves against sunshine (cap, scarf, etc.)

Author: Jakub Kubíček https://www.ambunode.cz/

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