Female Athletes Thriving in the Heat – Part 2 - Runners Edge Physio
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Female Athletes Thriving in the Heat – Part 2

Natalie Snyder PT, DPT, OCS, CSCS

Female Athlete Specialist

July 7, 2021

Dear HOT Ladies,

I already told you Women are NOT small men.  There’s more to it regarding hydration.

There are two main differences between female and male athletes in regard to acclimating to heat.  First, we sweat less.  Specifically, women sweat less; it’s more diluted and we have fewer sweat glands per square inch, more concentrated at the arms and hands.  Men, on the other hand, sweat more across their body and specifically their torso.  Second, we sweat later.  We vasodilate first, then sweat, which means our internal temperature threshold to kick-in sweating is higher. 

Then we have our menstrual cycle curveball, with the fluctuation of estrogen and progesterone affecting the skin temperature and bloodflow to be lower in the high-hormone phase, so we are less sensitive to dissipate heat and prevent ourselves from overheating.  Then we have the menopause curveball, the heat-loss responses are significantly inhibited, but can be improved with endurance fitness.  Lastly, we hydrate differently than men.  Because of the hormonal impact on blood plasma volume & core temperature & sodium retention/loss.  Don’t you wish you’re a hot dude? Tell me about it.

What are some of the curveball considerations in female physiology for sports performance?

1. Female sweat less and later – we vasodilate first, then we vasoconstrict.  Sweating is pulling water from the blood plasma to the skin to cool the body surface.

2. During high-hormone phase – with rise of progesterone, it causes the blood flow changes.  We tolerate heat less, as it becomes more difficult to dissipate.

3. Menopause-onset – inhibited response to triggers for heat-loss, but trainable and takes time.

Remember, women are NOT small men.  We need different training approaches, but there are few tactful techniques that we can work with our female physiology to perform our ultimate best at our event, race, and in any heat condition.

Good luck, HOT ladies!  You’re going to smoke them.  J

Sources:

  • ROAR: How to Match your Food and Fitness to your Female Physiology for Optimum Performance, Great Health, and a Strong, Lean Body for Life.  Dr. Stacy T. Sims, PhD.
  • Women are Not Small Men – Continuing Education course. Dr. Stacy T. Sims, PhD.
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