Tennis players spend a lot of time under the sun. And they usually have the tan to prove it! But that’s also why these athletes need to protect themselves from sunburns and the long term health risks caused by invisible, ultraviolet radiation.
When it comes to staying fit and healthy, taking steps to prevent sun damage is just as important as proper training and nutrition. Here are five easy ways to protect your skin from the sun without sacrificing performance.
Clothing is your first line of defence against UV rays. While all clothes provide at least some protection, certain materials do a better job than others.
People who spend long hours on the tennis court should look for clothes with an Ultraviolet Protection Factor. The UPF rating tells you how well the material shields your skin from UV rays. For example, a garment with a UPF of 50 will allow just 1/50th or 2% of UV radiation to pass through.
Of course, you won’t see tennis pros serving in long sleeves and pants. Players can’t be expected to cover themselves head to toe. This is where sunscreen shines.
Wearing sunscreen is the most effective way to protect exposed skin from the sun. Tennis players should apply a generous coat of water-resistant or sport-formulated sunscreen at least 15 minutes before hitting the courts, even on cloudy day. Your choice of SPF will depend on your skin’s sensitivity, but 30 SPF is the minimum for hot summer days.
In the heat of a match, your sunscreen is quickly worn off by friction and sweat. Be sure to re-apply it every two to three hours, especially during those long training sessions. Don’t forget those hard-to-reach spots like your ears, neck, shoulders, and the back of your legs.
Some athletes are reluctant to use sunscreen because they feel it hinders their performance. But the potential for short-term gain isn’t worth the risk of long-term skin damage. To keep your hands from getting slippery, simply have someone else apply the sunscreen for you.
Protect Yourself from Head to Toe
It’s not just your extremities that need sun protection – your face, eyes, ears, and scalp are also susceptible to the harmful effects of UV rays. Remember to wear a hat and apply plenty of sunscreen to your face, including an SPF lip balm. If you have trouble with it stinging your eyes, try using a thicker sunscreen formula on your forehead.
Your eyes need protection as well. Summer sports lovers should invest in a pair of wraparound sunglasses with 100% UV protection.
Got a Burn? Take a Break
When you feel the burn, don’t wait for the pain to set in. Call a time-out at the first sign of sunburn. You can minimize the damage by immediately covering your skin, cooling the affected area, and drinking plenty of cold water to stay hydrated.
You can treat minor burns at home, but check in with a doctor if the burn blisters, or if you get chills or a fever shortly afterward.
Escape the Sun
Tired of covering yourself in UPF clothing and sunscreen? Cover the tennis court instead! The best way to protect yourself from the sun is to retreat to the shade of an air-supported, climate-controlled dome.
Farley domes are made from several thick layers of fabric, providing complete protection from harmful UV rays. Since tennis domes can operate year-round, players stay cool and comfortable even in the heat of the summer. You can leave the SPF behind and get back to training.