It’s the start of school sports and the athletes are back in full action. As football, cross country, soccer and field hockey begins, many athletes who have never followed any kind of strength and conditioning program must be trained more carefully in their respective sports.

All sports differ in speed, endurance, strength, flexibility, balance and coordination. There are many elements an athlete should consider in the choice of their sport, such as muscular strength, endurance, hot weather acclimation (Indian summer in the fall) and nutrition and diet. These sports require excessive stress on the body’s joints, and especially the feet, which can contribute to related ankle, knee and lower back problems.

Such problems occur when playing on a field of natural grass, particularly if the athlete has a flat or low foot, which is mechanically weak. On artificial turf, the most common complaint is “turf-toe” which is an acute, traumatic bursitis of the first toe-metatarsal joint associated with tendonitis. Most individuals know their body pain signals. It is important to recognize.

Heat exhaustion will produce symptoms of dizziness, headache, nausea, rubbery legs, weak but rapid pulse, and possibly fainting. This is the time to stop immediately and find a cool area; drink slowly until the body reaches its equilibrium.

Heat stroke will cause a sense of confusion, loss of muscle control, and unconsciousness. Also, an extremely high and dangerous body temperature above 104 degrees. If any of these symptoms are present, keep the victim quiet with the head raised. Sponge them with cold water (rub the body with ice cubes or alcohol swabs) to bring the body temperature down. Most important seek medical attention promptly.

Dr.Robert F. Weiss is a podiatrist. He was a member of the Medical Advisory Committee of the 1984 and 1988 Olympic Marathon Trials. Dr. Weiss is a veteran of 35 Marathons. For more information go to www.facebook.com/drrobertweiss