High Thermoregulatory Strain During Competitive Paratriathlon Racing in the Heat

in International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
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Purpose: Paratriathletes may display impairments in autonomic (sudomotor and/or vasomotor function) or behavioral (drinking and/or pacing of effort) thermoregulation. As such, this study aimed to describe the thermoregulatory profile of athletes competing in the heat. Methods: Core temperature (Tc) was recorded at 30-second intervals in 28 mixed-impairment paratriathletes during competition in a hot environment (air temperature = 33°C, relative humidity = 35%–41%, and water temperature = 25°C–27°C), via an ingestible temperature sensor (BodyCap e-Celsius). Furthermore, in a subset of 9 athletes, skin temperature was measured. Athletes’ wetsuit use was noted while heat illness symptoms were self-reported postrace. Results: In total, 22 athletes displayed a Tc ≥ 39.5°C with 8 athletes ≥40.0°C. There were increases across the average Tc for swim, bike, and run sections (P ≤ .016). There was no change in skin temperature during the race (P ≥ .086). Visually impaired athletes displayed a significantly greater Tc during the run section than athletes in a wheelchair (P ≤ .021). Athletes wearing a wetsuit (57% athletes) had a greater Tc when swimming (P ≤ .032), whereas those reporting heat illness symptoms (57% athletes) displayed a greater Tc at various time points (P ≤ .046). Conclusions: Paratriathletes face significant thermal strain during competition in the heat, as evidenced by high Tc, relative to previous research in able-bodied athletes and a high incidence of self-reported heat illness symptomatology. Differences in the Tc profile exist depending on athletes’ race category and wetsuit use.

Stephenson, Hoekstra, Tolfrey, and Goosey-Tolfrey are with the Peter Harrison Centre for Disability Sport, School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences, Loughborough University, Loughborough, United Kingdom. Stephenson is also with the English Inst of Sport, Loughborough Performance Centre, Loughborough University, Loughborough, United Kingdom.

Goosey-Tolfrey (v.l.tolfrey@lboro.ac.uk) is corresponding author.
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