Chicago Bears Heat Response

Posted: August 12, 2010 in Uncategorized

While Training Camp 2010 got off to a cool start, the weather has certainly heated up!  On scorching hot days in Bourbonnais, Chicago Bears Head Trainer Tim Bream said players even pull down their socks to expose as much skin as possible to keep cool.  Meteorologist Amy Freeze went out to camp to find out how players cope with the heat and humidity.

“On a day like today, with 90 degrees and a heat index close to 100, some of our bigger guys could lose in excess of eight pounds of water weight in a two-hour practice,” said Bream “If they don’t gain six to seven pounds back, we won’t let them practice.

To avoid that, players drink before during and after practice, plus the Bears staff watch the heat index by taking temperature and dew point readings every 15 minutes during workouts.

While hot weather is part of preseason preparation, the heat can be dangerous. One year, 19 players had to have fluid IVs over one particularly hot 24-hour stretch.

“The worst thing that can happen to a player is heat stroke and that is when their body is boiling inside,” Bream said. “Guys can get heat illness or heat exhaustion and that is when the IV’s come in. They can get fatigued, but we want to avoid heat stroke.”

Another cool down method is the mandatory post work “ice” for every player, which is 5-10 minutes in freezing water. It takes 20,000 lbs of ice every practice to help the Bears cool off.

Q & A with Head Athletic Trainer for the Chicago Bears Tim Bream

Amy:  How has the weather been so far for Training Camp?
Tim:  The first few days have cooperated heat and humidity wise.  Through the first week it became hotter and hotter.  Last Tuesday the heat index was 105.

Amy:  What do you expect from the players?

Tim:  We expect them to drink from rise, to bed at night.  Players are made aware time and time again about the heat. They know.
Amy:  What do you do to protect the players?
Tim:  Today some of the players could lose 8 lbs of water weight.  If they don’t gain 6-7 lbs back, we wont let them practice.  We also test their specific urine to see if they are hydrated.  Coach Smith is also good about giving extra breaks.  So far we haven’t had any IV’s given.  One year we had to IV 19 guys in 24 hours, it was nuts!  Up to 3 breaks will be given during practice for relief of the heat, as well as a scheduled water break 3/4 of the way through the practice.  The worst thing that can happen to a player is heat stroke, which is when their body is boiling inside.  Guys can get heat illness or heat exhaustion which is when the IV’s come in.  They can also get fatigued, but we want to avoid heat stroke.


Amy:  Are there any positives to practicing in the heat?

Tim:  You want them to have some heat so they can acclimatize and perform in that type of environment during the year.

Amy:  How do you stay updated on weather information?

Tim:  We have an instrument that measures the heat index.  We’ll measure 15 minutes before practice and every 15 minutes during.  We talk to Coach Smith, and listen to you all the time!
Amy:  What are these ice baths all about?
Tim:  They are mandatory after every practice.  We have 360 bags with each bag weighing 60 lbs.  They stay in the ice bath for 5-10 minutes.  The worst part is the toes and

feet. They use toe caps which are basically like wet suits for the toes.

Amy:  Who’s the most sensitive to the heat?
Tim:  Bigger guys are more sensitive.  They have more body fat and heavier equipment.  We want as much skin exposed as possible.  We cut off their T-Shirts, make sure their socks are pulled down, and give them cold sponges on breaks.
Amy:  What can fans do to stay safe from the heat?

Tim:  Fans have to stay hydrated just like the players.  The best thing to do is stay in the shade. If you feel fatigued, go inside a building.

Chicago Bears Heat Policy

The Bears sports medicine staff outlined the following team program used to prevent heat complications:

Preparation

•     The players begin their off season conditioning program in early April. The program centers around lifting, running and sport specific drills for their position to physically prepare for training camp and regular season.

•     All players practice in light t-shirts (dry fit) that do not hold water.  This allows the body to cool easier.

•     The team’s athletic training and strength and conditioning staffs act proactively with athletes who might be predisposed to having heat illness.  These athletes are specifically monitored before, during, and after practice.

Education

•     The head athletic trainer and Strength and conditioning coach speak with the team about the importance of good nutrition and its effects on their bodies. All meals at Halas Hall and Training camp are designed to assist the players in acclimatizing to the heat and to keep their energy stores high.

•     At the start of Mini-camp and training camp in the team first meeting, Tim Bream  and Rusty Jones speak to the team about the keys to avoiding dehydration.

•     The team’s athletic training staff has constant reminders to players on the importance of hydration.  Posters with heat related information are placed at a clearly visible level above all urinals and toilets in the locker room and dormitory as well as in other locations in the cafeteria and dormitory halls and meeting areas.

Adaptation

•     The team will adjust practice times to earlier in the morning or evening in order to avoid the hottest periods of the day if indicated.

•     During practice the team’s athletic training staff takes temperature and humidity readings on the field every 15 minutes.

•     When the heat index rises above roughly 95, designated on-field break periods are scheduled into practice to allow the players to reduce their heart rate and drink water and Gatorade.

•     During designated break times, players are provided with cold sponges and towels that have been saturated with ice water. Players are encouraged to remove there helmets when they are not in a drill.

Hydration

•     Gatorade is always available to the players in unlimited quantities.

•     During training camp, a case of Gatorade is placed in each player’s room and replenished frequently. Each player has a 6-pack of Gatorade in his room for every road game throughout the season.

•     There are coolers in each meeting room, the locker room and the dorm that contain bottled water and Gatorade.

·      Gatorlytes are added to gatorade to provide extra salt for the players during extreme heat.

·      Salty and High carbohydrate snacks are provided and our readily available.

·      A weight chart is kept to monitor player’s fluid losses.

·      Player’s specific gravity of their urine is monitored as an indicator for dehydration

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