Published: September 14, 2016
Important health factors for sports skydivers and tandem masters.
The sport you practice is what is called an extreme sport or high risk sport. Studies have shown that the risks do not completely arise from the sport or its rules and regulations, but from the way it is practiced. During skydiving a person needs to be in a good mental and physical state to remain focused. Some factors can affect a skydiver's perception of the risk involved and their willingness to take the risk.
Here are some factors to remember:
- Dress for comfort in the prevailing conditions; feeling to hot or too cold can lead to distraction from the task at hand.
- Try not to start the day off tired, (this is not always possible) but being fatigued can affect your judgment. Do not pressurize yourself; if you have to take a rest or a nap, do so.
- In any sport there is the need to maintain hydration and nutrition. Dehydration can have cognitive and physical effects on the body. Dehydration often contributes to hyperthermia (overheating), and both can impair physical performance. Electrolyte drinks are very effective in maintaining hydration and electrolyte balance. If a person is hungry this could lead to hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) which can be debilitating physically and mentally. Our brain depends on an adequate blood glucose level to generate the energy needed to keep it functioning. It is important to remember to eat and drink throughout the day.
- If a skydiver is feeling under the weather, be it from flu, a cold or gastro these factors must be taken into account. Gastro can lead to dehydration; if a person has blocked sinuses this can cause problems with equalization and cause pain and discomfort. And it is important to remember that some medications have side effects which can affect judgment and concentration.
- Residual effects from alcohol and drugs must also be remembered. The physical effects of a hangover include dehydration and hypoglycemia. Many over-the-counter medications are quite potent; these include cold and flu mixtures, pain killers and hay fever medication. Some of these medications contain codeine which has a sedative effect on the body, so avoid taking codeine containing medication before you are going to jump. Some of these medications contain pseudoephedrine which can elevate blood pressure and heart rate and may increase reactions to stress. Hay fever medication often contains antihistamines which may lead to drowsiness.
- Safer medications to use for pain while skydiving are medications which contain paracetamol, ibuprofen and aspirin.
REMEMBER IT IS BETTER TO SIT AT THE SIDE AND ENJOY THE ATMOSPHERE AT THE DROPZONE THAN TAKE A RISK AT INJURING YOURSELF OR OTHERS!
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