The use of a mask can cause a sensation of suffocation in sports such as football

A match played between Third Division teams in Santa Brígida.  |  | JUAN CASTRO

A match played between Third Division teams in Santa Brígida. | | JUAN CASTRO

The latest update of the Official Gazette of the Canary Islands (BOC) reflects the obligation to use masks in federated sports competitions at a regional and island level, except those that take place individually outdoors or in which the distance from two meters with other participants. Likewise, national and international professional and federated practices must apply the protocol of the federations themselves. The truth is that the World Health Organization (WHO) advises against the use of this resource when carrying out high intensity activities, as respiratory capacity can decrease significantly. How does it affect athletes? According to the professor of Physical and Sports Education at the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (ULPGC), José Antonio López Calbet, the mask can accelerate the onset of fatigue.

“Wearing a mask during moderate or high intensity exercise will decrease your ability to exert yourself, which can cause a sensation of suffocation or relative suffocation. In addition, sweat and the generation of high air flows reduce their effectiveness because they are not designed for that ”, the professor explains.

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And it is that the mask creates “a dead space” between the mouth and it, which interferes with the exchange of gases carried out by the lungs. “When it comes to doing physical exercise, the amount of air that enters and leaves the lungs per minute is higher than the maximum flow that the masks tolerate. Therefore, if athletes require their bodies to breathe more, they will have to make more effort and the air will enter through the sides. Later he will be expelled from the same place and the role will no longer be the same ”, he emphasizes.

It must be said that the regulations affect, above all, the Third Division football teams, the Homor Youth Division and the futsal competitions dependent on the Royal Spanish Football Federation. Taking this into account, and based on the expert’s criteria, activities carried out in outdoor spaces should not go hand in hand with the use of masks.

“It is possible that they reduce the risk of contagion a little, but these sports are not going to be possible with them on. In addition, I think it is ridiculous to allow four people to eat outdoors at the same table, and that four people are less than a meter away, but that minors are required to wear masks to exercise if it is not possible to maintain distances, for example ”, adds Dr. López Calbet.

Are there notable differences between the difficulties that athletes may experience depending on their ages? The professor assures that no. “The mask will have a negative effect on the ability to exert when working at moderate or high intensities, but the physiological response in children and adults is similar. For this reason, it is not more harmful in minors than in the adult population ”, says the University professor.


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