World Championship Heat Stress Preparation: A Comparison Of IAAF And UCi Athletes

Julien Periard, David Nichols, Sebastien Racinais

    Research output: Contribution to journalMeeting Abstractpeer-review


    PURPOSE: To compare exertional heat illness (EHI) history and preparedness to compete in the heat at the Beijing, China 2015 IAAF (athletics) and Doha, Qatar 2016 UCI (road cycling) World Championships. METHODS: Responses to a pre-competition questionnaire evaluating EHI history, heat countermeasure strategies and recovery approaches were compared in 307 IAAF and 69 UCI respondents (32% and 7% participation rate, respectively). The IAAF event was held in ~29ºC and ~58% RH conditions, and the UCI event in ~37ºC and ~25% RH. A Chisquare test of independence was employed to compare sports. RESULTS: Both the IAAF (48%) and UCI (57%) athletes had previously experienced EHI symptoms, with 9% and 17% having been diagnosed with EHI, respectively (P<0.001). Only 15% of IAAF athletes trained in the heat (5-30 days) before the championships, in contrast to 32% of the cyclists (P<0.001). Half of the IAAF athletes (52%) had a precooling strategy compared with 96% of the cyclists (P<0.001). Ice slurry ingestion was the most prevalent strategy in athletics and wearing an ice-vest during the warm-up was most common for cyclists. Almost all IAAF (96%) and all UCI athletes (100%) had a fluid consumption strategy (P<0.001), which differed based on event category (field, sprints and distance events; time trials and road race). The volume of fluids planned on being consumed also differed between event categories within each sport, although the water was the fluid most commonly consumed. Most IAAF athletes (89%) planned on using at least one recovery strategy with the most frequently employed being massage, active recovery, stretching and cold-water immersion. The majority of cyclists (92%) planned on using one or more recovery strategies with massage, stretching and active recovery the most prevalent. CONCLUSION: Athletes competing at the 2015 IAAF and 2016 UCI World Championships reported a similar history of heat illness. Along with most athletes competing throughout the northern hemisphere summer months, 15% of IAAF athletes surveyed prepared specifically for the event by training in the heat, whereas 32% of the cyclists reported undertaking some form of heat training. Approximately half of the IAAF athletes and almost all the UCI athletes had a precooling strategy. Most athletes in each sport had a fluid consumption and recovery strategy
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number213
    Pages (from-to)340
    Number of pages1
    JournalMedicine and Science in Sports and Exercise
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - May 2018


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