Keeping baseball players hydrated during the summer heat

While other athletes may be more physically active in shorter spurts, baseball players – usually wearing long open bottom baseball pants and baseball jerseys that trap body heat – must confront the additional challenge of performing under the blistering spring and summer sun for two- to three-hour intervals. It should not be surprising when players suffer injuries because they are dehydrated.

Despite playing the game their whole lives, even professional players are not immune to this problem. A slew of injuries that can be attributed in part to dehydration have swept through Major League Baseball spring training camps. Most recently, New York Mets outfielder Scott Hairston strained an oblique muscle, which will lead to him being placed on the disabled list to start the season.

"I think it's a combination of dehydration. I think it's a combination of they're so strong. And I think it's a combination that they work their butts off," Mets manager Terry Collins told ESPN. "[Hairston] swung too much the first day. It's our fault we didn't back him off. And he started to feel tightness and didn't back off."

Youth players may be even more prone to injuries resulting from dehydration because their bodies have not yet developed physically, so their muscles may be more susceptible to injury anyway, without the added factor of being dehydrated.

To prevent these injuries, the Mayo Clinic suggests monitoring youth athletes and insisting that they leave the game if they have headaches, appear fatigued and dizzy or experience cramping. These are all signs of dehydration, which could lead to muscle strains and, in some cases, muscle tears, heat stroke and death.

Coaches should encourage players to properly hydrate before games and continue to consume fluids when sitting on the bench. Parents can help out by purchasing baseball equipment that keeps players cool.

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