After the article How much does heat affect sports performance? we return to the subject of physical activity and heat with experts from the Mapei Sport Research Centre. Many team sports are characterised by a preparatory period that takes place in the summer months, in geographical regions where high levels of temperature, humidity and solar radiation are present.

«Repeated training sessions conducted in hot environments may facilitate physiological adaptations such as improved sweating efficiency or reduced cardiovascular load, stimulating some potentially useful adaptations for athletes practising team sports. On the contrary, it is also known that acute exposure to thermal stress can reduce athletes’ work capacity and the quality of their training. In addition, excessive repetition of exposure to thermal stress can induce excessive overloads that negatively affect athletes’ feeling of well-being and performance» explains Ermanno Rampinini, Mapei Sport’s operations manager and head of the Human Performance Lab at the Olgiate Olona (Varese) centre.

The interesting study of 2020 Effect of Individual Environmental Heat-Stress Variables on Training and Recovery in Professional Team Sport was concerned with verifying the effect of the variables that contribute to the increase in environmental heat stress (temperature, humidity and solar radiation) on the external load, internal load and quality of recovery during the 48 hours following a training session sustained by athletes practising team sports and characterised by repeated high-intensity phases. «The colleagues who conducted it hypothesised that each of the variables contributing to the increase in thermal stress could contribute to a reduction in the external load and a concomitant increase in the internal load, as well as a worsening of the quality of recovery in the hours following training» continues Rampinini, who in his experience with Italian and international clubs in the top divisions can confirm what this research has proven.

This is probably one of the reasons why immersion in cold water used as a strategy for optimising recovery (either in special tubs filled with water and ice or in mountain streams) is very popular and particularly appreciated by footballers during the pre-season preparation that takes place in the summer.