As the weather heats up, that fencing gear can start to get warmer and warmer. Just like any other sport, fencing gets your blood pumping and your heart going, and that leads to a higher body temperature quite naturally. That’s perfectly normal and quite alright! However it’s extremely important when fencing to stay safe and avoid overheating.
While this danger is perhaps less than with outdoor sports that are battling the heat of the sun, it’s nonetheless a fact that many fencing clubs are not air conditioned and also that sometimes coaches might take their classes out into the open air during this time of year to enjoy the beautiful weather.
In order to beat the heat, here are some great tips to help you stay cool.
This means hydrating beyond just fencing practice. Did you know that it takes the body a full 24 hours to rehydrate after strenuous exercise? Drinking extra water doesn’t just need to happen during practice, but rather should be a constant thought during the summer months. There are pros and cons of sports drinks, but either way as long as it’s not soda or juice, drink up. This is the MOST IMPORTANT tip and cannot be overstated. It’s a truly serious health concern.
2. Recognize when to slow down
Getting too hot makes the body start to become more sluggish. It can be oh so easy to assume that the reason that a fencer is starting to get tired is because they’ve been practicing hard and are perhaps not in as good a shape as they could be, but the truth is that heat is a big factor! When it’s hot, the body starts to use energy to try to cool off, and just needs more breaks. We fencers like to push ourselves, but it’s critical to listen to the body and slow down when it’s signaling that it’s time to.
3. Unmask and unbutton
If it’s really hot, pull that mask off. It of course has to be worn during the actual match, but pull it up at every opportunity. Covering the head holds a great deal of heat in so it’s absolutely critical that the mask comes up to allow some of that heat to come back out. The other place that you can really allow heat to escape? The chest! Unbutton that jacket when not actively on the strip (follow the guidance of your coach on this one).
4. Rethink what’s underneath
We are all creatures of habit, and so sometimes it can be really helpful and important to rethink those habits.Consider getting some sports socks that wick away moisture (you’ll find them in the sports section of big box stores or in sporting good or hiking shops). There are also all kinds of other shirts that you can get to wear under the fencing jacket that will do the same thing. These new fabrics can do pretty incredible things, so check them out!
5. Grab a cool cloth
One of the most effective ways to stay cool is to apply a cool cloth to the back of the neck or even to the face. Consider keeping a cool damp something with the water bottle during practice to be administered when needed, you can even tie it around the water bottle or easy storage! There are lots of great options out there that are made of special fabrics that will wick away the moisture effectively and stay damp for longer periods of time.