We a football crazy country was looking forward for the WCQ against Yemen. Before the Maldivian National Team left to Yemen I was going through the local newspapers about the progress of training. I came across sincere and some crazy quoting in those news articles …
Well maybe some of the articles can be some ticks of journalism to sell those papers , the major concern the Sports Physician and the officials of FAM brought forward was the altitude (2300m) where the game has to be played, the second concern brought forward was the lack of oxygen due to the high altitude. He was right on pointing out those concerns.
The problem when training at high altitude (>2000m) is that there is less oxygen, this may not be frightening to individuals at rest but create a challenge to endurance athletes. To simplify the higher the altitude the longer it takes to adopt. Before training or competing at high altitudes it’s advisable to understand the adaptation process and things to be done as there are number of physiological changes in human body when training at high altitude.
Adjusting to the Altitude
There are key steps to remember whenever playing or training above 5000 Feet. (Our National Team played above 8000 Feet)
1. Allow time for your body to acclimatize (approximately 5 days)
2. A rest day or two before activity
3. Recognize early warning signs and symptoms of high altitude sickness
4. Prevention through education means being aware and knowing that there is no substitute for common sense.
There are complementary methods that can possibly prevent or speed up the body’s ability to
Eat Healthfully & Supplementation
1. Two days before: high complex carbohydrates
2. Eat complex carbohydrates diet throughout the entire trip
3. Eat frequent small meals rather than rather than large meals
4. High amounts of green leafy vegetables
5. Drink plenty of fluids
6. Sip small amounts every 15 minutes prevents fluid consumption
7. Take vitamins on a regular basis and increase certain vitamins beforehand
8. A multi-vitamin should be taken on a regular basis
9. Increase vitamin C intake
10. Increase vitamin E intake
11. Take antioxidants and vitamins in liquid form
Increase amounts of amino acid, tyrosine. Tyrosine is an amino acid considered unessential because it is manufactured in the body. The importance of this particular amino acid is its role in metabolism, and its support of proper nervous system functioning. Taken three times daily before meals, and gradually increase during the trip if above 10 thousand feet preventing altitude and exercise induced deficiencies.
Studies have indicated that these vitamins and antioxidants taken before and during improve the body’s ability to remove free radicals, as exercising increases free radical activity. Vitamin C and E are strong antioxidants and increases the body’s cellular ability to use oxygen.
The activity intensity should be lowered at the start of training at high altitude. Pushing the exercise or practice too hard may increase your risk of overtraining or injury, a gradual progression on training or practice is a must. And keep a note that some people just do not adapt as well as others.
There is no one exercise progression plan which fits all occasions – same as at sea level it is advisable to keep a log which you rate fatigue during workout and at rest, morning resting heart rate, weight, and mood. Correlate this with the intensity of your practice, this will help to get the best out of players.
With the information above there are few questions to be asked …
1. Was our team fully prepared for the high altitude adaptation while we travelled to WCQ at Yemen?
2. Will talking about the matters of high altitude problems in the media without a proper education of the adaptation procedure do any good?
3. Did our team arrive Yemen in the right time for the players to adopt for the thin air (low oxygen)
I leave it to the readers from here for their opinion on this … and let’s learn something from this experience.
Good luck to Maldives National Team for the match against Yemen in Maldives.