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Hypo and Hyperthermia during long events

Michael Gillan-ultra marathon recovery specialist

Hypothermia during endurance events

Hypothermia can happen to any athlete anywhere in endurance events-it does not just happen in
cold countries-it can happen in moderate climates as well
I live in Australia and it is not classed as a cold country when compared to most others-but for the
unprepared, they might as well be in one
cold + moisture + air flow = temperature drop=heat being pulled from the body=Hypothermia

There are four grades of hypothermia, these are

• Impending Hypothermia
• Mild Hypothermia
• Moderate Hypothermia
• Severe Hypothermia

Impending hypothermia
Impending hypothermia difficult to forecast but the main conditions for this are usually a hot day
followed by a cool evening and frosty night.
The athletes most prone to it are the ones who do not feel the cool air on the body as they still feel
warm from the daytime heat.

Mild Hypothermia
Uncontrolled Intense Shivering starts.
Coldness is creating pain and discomfort, they are still capable of moving and will still deny
anything is wrong as judgment is affected-at this stage they are still recoverable and go back on
track if they are pulled off and treated locally.

Coping with Mild Hypothermia

• Cover up with blankets to keep the heat in.

• Do not massage the hands, arms or legs to help warm someone up as it can push cold
blood into the body possibly making the core heat cooler then the athlete may be pushed
into moderate or worse, severe hypothermia.

• Give warm drinks but not coffee, alcohol or tea, soup is good as it give nourishment as
well as heat.

Copyright 2008 Michael Gillan ultra marathon recovery specialist

Hypo and Hyperthermia during long events
Michael Gillan-ultra marathon recovery specialist
Moderate and Severe and Hypothermia
I have seen many people go into hypothermia after the event is finished.
They had shown very few signs during the run and did not cover up immediately after the event.
These people are in big trouble and need urgent medical help.

Never massage the limbs if the athlete is hypothermic, cold blood will be
forced back into the body reducing core temperature further


There are some simple steps to reduce the prospects of developing it, so if so this will be covered
There is more chance of developing it at 24-hour events than at multi-day ultras because newer
converts to the sport always turn up inadequately prepared and prefer to go for looks rather than
practicality. They are more likely to stick with vest and shorts rather than the full tops and long
tights the older hands wear.
• As soon as it starts to get dark, get rid of the shorts and top, or at least cover them up.
• Wear a hat
• When the clothing gets wet with perspiration put on dry clothing even if it means 8 or
10 changes and associated down time during the night.
• If it rains, put on a light waterproof top.
• Have warm drinks and food during the night.
• If the athlete is cold and they are considering going back out on the track immediately
do not let them have a hot shower.
• The second they stop, the athlete should be covered up with a warm blanket to preserve
what core body heat they have.
While most decisions concerning an event should be left to the athlete as they know their body
better than anyone but they cannot see themselves though as others see them-the crew whoever
they might be should be given the authority to call off the runner/walker when they see some of
the symptoms appearing.

Immediately the late afternoon starts get the athlete to start covering up in spite of their protests.
At this stage, a light tracksuit top and bottom will be fine by late evening a heavier top is needed.

Early morning, gloves, possibly two light layers of clothing rather than one heavier tracksuit.
This is because the underneath set will be next to the body absorbing heat and perspiration, and
the outer one will prevent it being radiated into the night air too rapidly.

Do not let them have a hot shower to warm up

While it may feel good, the hot water is helping heat loss by bringing more heated blood to the
outside of the body where it is lost as soon as the water cools on the skin.
As soon as the steam hits them they feel faint, suddenly without warning, they go into moderate
or even severe hypothermia having by passed the first two grades.

Change the top frequently for a dry one.

It may be cold when changing in the night, but cold by itself is not harmful.
Cold+moisture+heat loss+air movement across the body is fulfilling most of the requirements for
setting up hypothermia.

Hypo and Hyperthermia during long events
Michael Gillan-ultra marathon recovery specialist

Keep up warm fluids and food.

Cold drinks and food taken during the night need heat to be converted to energy, and this will
absorb heat from the body.

Cover up on stopping.
Make the person cover up as soon as the handler starts to feel cold.
When the crew starts to feel cool and reach for their jackets, they should also get one for the

As soon as the athlete stops for any reason or for however long, move them out of the wind and
throw a blanket around them covering the upper body especially.
Have a silver lined space insulation blanket available at all times, while being very light, their
insulating properties rather than weight which is needed at this time.

At the finish of the event cover them up as warmly as possible so their inner heat can be retained.

I have found that when the muscles stop moving and producing heat, the heat that is left can
dissipate within a very short time and the body shuts down within a few minutes.
It is important to know the grades as if the athlete is pulled off the track in the mild grades, time
spent recovering them will enable them to get back on the track doing productive distance rather
than being in hospital recovering in the emergency department.
It is obviously better to catch someone at the impending grade before they go into the other
grades, although some people by pass even this stage and go straight into mild or even moderate
Impending and mild hypothermia can be worked on trackside with an excellent chance of the
athlete getting back on track again.
Moderate and severe hypothermia require immediate first aid and possibly hospitalization.

Conventional massage and hypothermia

When conventional forms of massage are used, the main requirement is that people are undressed
or disrobed to have oil applied while the massage is done, heat may be lost from the body at this
time by having the person undress or disrobe to have the massage, and they are then usually just
covered with a towel.
This is fine on a hot or warm day but if the same thing is done during the early hours of the
morning or before the warmth comes back into the day, the conditions are in place for inducing
If someone is already cold, having them lying still for 15-20 minutes is not going to warm them
If we are massaging the legs to promote recovery, more cold is going to be allowed to the body.
Any benefits gained are going to be reduced, as the body has to make up the warmth lost.

Body heat is dissipated by a number of things during a conventional massage.

• The person may be relaxing so the need for the body to pump blood at an increased rate is

Hypo and Hyperthermia during long events
Michael Gillan-ultra marathon recovery specialist
• The room may be cold

Heat loss during a ‘hot’ massage

Friction produces heat and warms the local area of skin being massaged which causes
vasodilation of superficial blood vessels expanding them and bringing warm blood to the surface
of the skin where the heat is lost through conduction convection and radiation.

Cold oil is applied to warm skin and the heat is lost through having to warm the oil up from the
body, as the massage moves to different areas, the skin cools again.

Heat is removed by cooler air blowing across the skin surface when clothing is removed to allow
oil to be applied.

The exposed part of the body radiates heat away from the body.

Another way of losing body heat is by evaporation through perspiration, using oil as an aid in
reducing friction can block the skin pores reducing the ability to perspire, but heat is still lost.
If the skin is cold become pale numb and have a waxy feel it should be assumed that the body is
going into vasoconstriction and that hypothermia is impending.
The superficial blood vessels that supply oxygen to the muscle tissues have gone smaller
restricting the flow of warm blood to them as the body attempts to limit the loss of heat and
conserve it for the vital organs.
The lack of shivering and the feel of the skin, which will be cold and wet with perspiration, is an
indication of possible onset of hypothermia.
In healthy perspiration the skin will be wet but warm to touch indicating that the superficial
venous system is in a state of vasodilation with the blood vessels being open and supplying
oxygen-enriched blood to the muscle tissue.

Hyperthermia-seek medical help

Hyperthermia is the opposite of Hypothermia, both are a danger to the runner and walker.
The body becomes overheated and stressed; symptoms include headache, nausea and fatigue.
On a hot day the athlete should be watched carefully to make sure they are drinking adequate
fluids on a regular basis.
Symptoms of Hyperthermia
Heat stroke can be life-threatening and victims can die. A person with heat stroke usually has a
high body temperature.
Other symptoms include confusion, combativeness, bizarre behavior, faintness, staggering, strong
and rapid pulse, and possible delirium or coma...

Treatment for Hyperthermia

If the athlete is showing signs of heat stroke emergency assistance should be sought immediately.
Heat exhaustion may be treated in several ways:

• get them out of the sun into a cool place, preferably one that is air conditioned
• offer fluids but avoid alcohol and caffeine - water and fruit juices are best

Hypo and Hyperthermia during long events
Michael Gillan-ultra marathon recovery specialist
• encourage them to shower and bathe, or sponge off with cool water
• urge them to lie down and rest, preferably in a cool place

The two most common forms of hyperthermia are heat exhaustion and heat stroke, heat stroke is
especially dangerous and requires immediate medical attention.
Heat stress occurs when a strain is placed on the body as a result of hot weather and the ultra
athlete may be in this for a long time.
Heat fatigue is a feeling of weakness brought on by high outdoor temperature.
Symptoms include cool, moist skin and a weakened pulse, they may feel faint.
Heat cramps are caused by a lack of salt in the body; they are painful muscle spasms in the
abdomen, arms or legs following strenuous activity.

Heat exhaustion is a warning that the body is getting too hot. The person may be thirsty, giddy,
weak, uncoordinated, nauseated and sweating profusely. The body temperature is normal and the
pulse is normal or raised. The skin is cold and clammy.

Some years ago, there was a widely reported case in Australia of a fun runner who had 'muscle
With a group of friends, he had attended a run, which because of the heat was cancelled.

All the support people went home but the group decided to hold their own run.

As all the drink stations had been moved, there was no fluid to be had on the route they ran.
Consequently, the muscles just turned to jelly.

They did not have the knowledge, or if they did, ignored the simple fact that on a run, fluids have
to be kept up to the body to avoid dehydration.

Needs to be light and light colored to deflect the heat.
The most effective original clothing I have seen around the tracks belongs to Cliff Young and
Sandra and Richard brown.
Cliff’s outfit consisted of tracksuit pants with holes cut into them.
This allowed air to circulate while keeping the sun off the skin.
He also wore ‘kepi’ style hat with a skirt around the back half to keep the sun off the back of the
neck, when it was soaked in cold water it would keep the top of the head cool for some time.
Sandra and Richard’s track ensemble consisted of pajamas raided from the local second hand
clothing store these provided color to the local scene on the track, were light, soaked up
perspiration without being sticky could be washed and dried quickly, be changed quickly without
too much downtime having to remove running shoes.
The also wore Chinese coolie hats which also gave a parasol effect keeping the face shaded.
For both heating and cooling, a new article of clothing to look at is called the arctic vest.
This can be warmed for cold nights or cooled for extreme temperatures

The web site for this is

Hypo and Hyperthermia during long events
Michael Gillan-ultra marathon recovery specialist

The World Run Recovery System

The World Run Recovery System offers an alternative way of assisting recovery without interfering with
the healing processes that are already happening at the micro-cellular level of repair-and it does this
without putting the muscles at risk of being injured by too much pressure generated by the ends of the
fingers working into the tissues.

The system works by using the bodies own mechanics of bones, joints, and muscles to push used blood
and toxins from the lower legs-these can then be replaced by fresh blood-oxygen filled blood which will
enhance recovery time and speed the recovery of the sportsperson
Enhancing recovery quickly and easily using the principles of

• Simplicity

• Predictability

• Consistency

Using these 3 principles it is possible to not only enhance recovery times, but to do it without the
inconvenience of disrobing or using oils or equipment such as massage table towels or needing
the handskills or techniques of modern massage practises.
This places easy recovery for anyone to use with very little training and without any equipment to
buy or maintain

My only equipment for 24 hour run consisted of a chair next to the bottles to maintain the leg
recovery of 20 people when I looked after the Danish team at the world championships in 2007

Hypo and Hyperthermia during long events
Michael Gillan-ultra marathon recovery specialist

In recovery there is nothing wrong with the legs, so they is basically nothing to fix on there is no
point getting in using complicated recovery systems that

• Will cost a great deal of money

• Will take a lot end of study

• Will need equipment

• Will need SOMEONE to use it

The World Run Recovery System has been tested by many runners and walkers around the world

*References and citations

PubMed-Manual massage and recovery of muscle function following exercise: a literature review.

PMID: 9007768 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

The mechanisms of massage and effects on performance, muscle recovery and injury prevention.

PMID: 15730338 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

SOURCES: Hinds, T. Medicine & Science in Sports and Exercise, August 2004; vol 36: pp 1308-1313.

Hypo and Hyperthermia during long events
Michael Gillan-ultra marathon recovery specialist

Results from 1995 Coburg 6 day footrace

Name Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 5 Day 6

A Krouglikov 237.2 113.6 130 106 126 108 Kilometers
539 284 325 365 315 270 Laps

T Rusek 215.2 98.8 98 139.6 138.4 122.4 Kilometers

538 247 245 349 346 306 Laps

M T aylor 174.4 128.8 143.6 123.6 138.4 122.4 Kilometers

436 322 359 309 302 223 Laps

B Beauchamp 180.4 133.2 124 117.6 110 93.2 Kilometers

451 333 310 294 275 233 Laps

P Gray 150 134 105.2 94.8 111.6 106 Kilometers

375 335 263 237 279 265 Laps

D Parri s 138.4 108.4 106.8 116.4 106 107.2 Kilometers

346 271 267 274 265 268 Laps

I Davis 168 119.2 90 116.4 106 107.2 Kilometers

420 298 225 291 180 247 Laps

G Watts 132.2 96.4 99.2 104.4 92.8 133.6 Kilometers

328 241 248 261 232 334 Laps

C Young 142 91.2 90 97.6 88 92 Kilometers

355 228 225 244 220 230 Laps

D Kettle 138.2 86.8 90.8 95.2 94.4 84.4 Kilometers

332 217 227 238 236 212 Laps

R H ill 128 80.8 99.2 70 95.6 96.6 Kilometers

320 202 248 175 239 241 Laps

K Fisher 164 91.6 50 115.2 49.6 81.2 Kilometers

410 229 125 288 124 203 Laps

G Pollard 120 74.8 73.6 68.4 69.6 61.2 Kilometers

300 187 184 171 174 153 Laps
The above group came in for Light Manual Muscle Rel axation
The below group did not or had their own recovery people
T Rafferty 141.6 112.8 104.8 101.6 98 96.4 Kilometers
354 282 262 254 245 241 Laps

G McConnel 145.6 110.8 126.4 113.6 108.4 106 ki lometers

363 277 287 284 271 265 Laps

G Audley 152.8 110.8 126.4 113.6 114.8 95.2 ki lometers

S Scanlon 140.8 82 84 34 0 0 Kilometers

352 205 210 85 pulled out-bli sters Laps

J Timms 127.2 98.4 74.8 0 0 0 ki lometers

This is a result sheet when the World Run Recovery System was developed and shows the gradual
changes from working on the muscles to working with them-if this was translated to the snowbunny with
fatigued muscles they would back on the slopes in no time

Hypo and Hyperthermia during long events
Michael Gillan-ultra marathon recovery specialist

What they say about the World Run Recovery System

Michael’s methods of massage and blister care helped me to stay mobile throughout the race and
to recover quickly afterwards. His techniques are safe and gentle.
Unlike some treatments, which put the runners and walkers at risk of muscle tears or infection,
Michael’s techniques are gentle, safe, reassuring, and highly effective. They enhance comfort
and flexibility, build confidence, and promote success.
This booklet will help others to learn and practice Michael’s methods. It is recommended reading
for everyone who walks and runs and who wants to go further, go faster, or just to enjoy life
SANDRA BROWN 1996 Ladies 1000 Mile World Record Holder
1999 Ladies 100 mile Race walking World Record Holder

“I know that your massage kept a number of competitors in the event. The cold weather of
Saturday afternoon and night certainly got to many of the walkers and your prompt action had
them back in the race after a short stop.
In years past, that would have ended up as a non-finish. A number of walkers were able to keep
going for the full 24 hours on the basis of your expert help.”
Tim Ericson Secretary Australian Centurions Club

'I have known Michael Gillan for many years and have always got quick relief for my aches and pains
from the stretching he performs'.
CLIFF YOUNG-75-80 24 Hour World Record Holder (150.07 kilometers)

A word from Jesper Olsen World Runner about The World Run Recovery System
“If I hadn't had the qualified help from the excellent masseur Michael Gillan, taking several thousands of
km out of my legs, I could spare myself the effort!”
“My crew for the current stages, Michael Gillan, has proven to have other talents than the quite
taxing job of taking care of all the requirements of a really tired ultra runner!
He has since years back been working on a new approach to stretching and muscle-rebuilding for
ultra runners. I have the last two days tried his careful stretch and massage, and a bit to my
surprise the muscles are beginning to feel like before the start back in Greenwich, London!!

Usually I doesn’t take massage as the legs of an ultra runner will often be quite sore during the
long time events (and especially in an multi-year event like this...), and getting a massage can at
times cause more injury and cramping up than good. For example my last massage was some 12
000km ago when I ran the 12-hour competition in Finland. And so far that has been the only one.

But Gillan came with best recommendations from my main contact in Australia, Phil Essam, who
besides being vice president in the Australian Ultra runners Association has heaps of good
knowledge to share. And this new kind of mild massage for ultra runners is definitely one of the
good tips! There should be a fair chance that I actually get fresh enough to do some decent
running at the 6 Day Race that I have coming up in Colac from the 21.November. I quite look
forward to that, even though I can’t expect to make a top class result :-)”

He won! 756.2 kilometers (Jesper holds the record for the longest run in history over
26000 kilometers and the first person to run around the world
Taken from
The World Run Recovery System is a simple system that is easy to use without the need
for equipment other than the hands

Hypo and Hyperthermia during long events
Michael Gillan-ultra marathon recovery specialist

Resource Box

Michael Gillan is an Ultra Marathon Recovery Specialist who has been a masseur around many
ultra long distance events both in Australia and internationally since he was a student in 1993

In 1995 while working at a 6 day run, he changed the approach to recovery of the athletes from
the conventional way of working on the muscles using the hands and fingers to increase muscle
blood circulation, to working with the muscles and making them work on themselves

The results from this changeover can be seen on the Coburg result sheet on page 5

In 1996 Michael went to the Nanango 1000 Mile 16 day event where it was tested and helped
the worlds 4-5 and 11th to achieve their distances

Other notable events the World Run Recovery System was tested on was World Run 1 with
Jesper Olsen and the World Run 2 training camp in Denmark in 2007

For other events see

Copyright 2008 Michael Gillan ultra marathon recovery specialist

Hypo and Hyperthermia during long events
Michael Gillan-ultra marathon recovery specialist