Tuesday, November 28

The scientific trick to cool down and play sports in the heat is in the palm of your hand

Do you like sports? Maybe yes, but how much do you feel like playing sports in the sweltering heat? Surely much less. The heat exhausts us and makes all efforts seem twice as difficult. But they don’t just look like it.

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Our exercise performance goes down the drain when the temperature rises. One thing that proves it is that marathon records they are churned on days with temperatures below 20 degrees. However, a recent discovery can boost athletic performance in athletes, even on the worst of hot days. At the same time, it can help anyone else to cool down more quickly.

body radiators

A few years ago, Dr. Craig Heller, a biologist at Stanford University, was faced with the opposite problem: warming patients coming out of the operating room hypothermic and shivering after surgery. The traditional method is to put warm blankets on them, but it still took hours for them to stop shivering.

Heller discovered that by heating the patients’ hands, placed in a cylinder through which hot water circulated, they not only warmed up faster, but even managed to avoid the shivering completely. Heller was taking advantage of a little-known part of the human anatomy. Under the skin of the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet, the arteries connect to the veins directly, bypassing the capillaries, through special blood vessels called arteriovenous anastomoses. With his apparatus, I was warming the blood of the patients, so the heat exchange was much faster.

Similar to what happens in a car, the hands, the feet and the upper part of the face are the radiators of our body. Warming your hands warms up the internal temperature much better than warming the skin around the chest or back, since in this case the skin acts as an insulator.

Cool down to continue training

What serves to warm up, also serves to cool down. One of the reasons for muscle fatigue is the increase in temperature. We all know that when muscles work, they generate heat. This increased temperature interferes with the chemical reactions that cause muscles to contract, causing lower sports performance.

The researchers led by Heller applied their cylinder to the hands of people who were exercising, but this time using water at 10º to cool them, that is, to extract heat from the body. The result was that the participants took much longer to fatigue, and therefore managed to increase their strength.

In one experiment, subjects, both athletes and untrained people, had to do pull-ups to failure, cooling their hands for three minutes between each set. After six weeks, the number of pull-ups increased by 144% in the athletes and 80% in the rest of the participants.

Heller continued his experiments with army special forces, who often have to operate in extreme heat. Cooling down before and during exertion not only improved your performance, but also your alertness and attention span, which are also affected by heat.

How to cool your hands at home

Heller’s device that exchanges heat in the hands is about the size of a coffee pot, and it doesn’t look very comfortable to take to the gym or run with it. That is why Stanford University in collaboration with a private company they are developing some gloves that can produce this same effect, and that athletes or soldiers can wear. At the moment they are not for sale.

Without having this technology, can we take advantage of this discovery in our daily lives? We may think that holding an ice pack in our hand will achieve the same effect, but this could be counterproductive. If the temperature is too low, vasoconstriction occurs. blood vessels shrinkless blood circulates and heat exchange is prevented.

A previous experiment I used chemical cold packs, like those applied to injuries, which are easy to get in pharmacies. Holding a bag of water mixed with ice loosely (it cuts off circulation) would produce similar results. The trick is to move or shake it so that a layer of warmer static water doesn’t form near your hands.

Even if we are not doing sports, we can take advantage of this discovery and cool our hands and feet to cool off on the hottest days.

* Darío Pescador is editor and director of the quo magazine and author of the book your best self Posted by Oberon.

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