Athletics

Don’t let UV be your biggest hurdle

Athletics is typically a summer sport with athletes participating during peak UV months. Athletes are often outside for extended periods of time for training and competition and are subject to UV reflected off the track and surrounding surfaces as well as directly from above. Meets can often take place over an entire day so even at very low levels of UV, good sun protection is needed.

Five tips for how to Slip, Slop, Slap, Seek and Slide to stay on track

1. Cover up exposed skin: SLIP on clothing that covers as much skin as possible while still being comfortable. If you can see skin, UV can reach it. Try densely-woven, loose-fitting, cool clothing or athletics gear labelled UPF50 to help block UV. When not competing, or between events, slip on a shirt with a collar or t-shirt for more cover.

2. Apply sunscreen correctly and frequently: SLOP on SPF30 (or higher) broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen to any parts of skin not covered by clothing. Sunscreen won’t provide 100% protection but used in conjunction with other sun protection methods it will greatly reduce your risk of skin damage.

  • Apply sunscreen at least 20 minutes before heading out. If you’re a field athlete, choose a dry touch or active formula that won’t be greasy and impact your grip. Be happy to reapply. 
  • Sunscreen should be reapplied at least every two hours and more regularly if you’re sweating so put a tube in your bag. Aim to reapply during drink breaks and between events.
  • Correct application of sunscreen is essential. 85% of Aussies don’t use enough sunscreen, putting themselves at risk. Check out our sunscreen calculator.

3. Protect your face, neck and ears on and off the track or field: SLAP on a bucket hat with a deep crown and angled brim to help shade the face, neck and ears between events. It will also help with sun glare.

  • For training, try a legionnaire hat with a peak at the front and long flap.
  • The last resort would be a cap. It won’t provide full protection but it will help protect the top of the head, forehead and eyes. Be extra vigilant in applying sunscreen to your cheeks, chin, ears and neck because those parts will be particularly vulnerable.

4. Avoid peak UV times: Try to schedule training earlier in the morning or later in the day when the sun’s UV isn’t as intense. Download the free SunSmart app to stay on top of UV levels and sun protection times. SEEK shady training and warm-up areas whenever possible. Hydrate and rest in the shade.

5. Protect your eyes: SLIDE on sunglasses to help protect your eyes from UV and sun glare. Athletics tracks can reflect high levels of UV so eye protection is important. They can also help protect your eyes from wind, dust, grit and bugs. For best protection, choose a wrap-around style that meets the Australian Standard (AS/NZS 1067).