MN Sports Performance Coaching | Overtraining
The curse to every athlete’s existence is an injury that just won’t go away or won’t go away fast enough to be able to return to working out or competing.
There is a difference between being just a little tired or on a down-cycle, and being legitimately run down or over tired. It’s important to be able to tell the difference if you want to stay injury free. Nothing will put a stop to your fitness goals more quickly than not being able to recognize when you’re legitimately run down and over tired.
Overtraining Can Lead To Injuries
One of the biggest challenges to achieving your fitness goals is consistency. If you’re repeatedly getting sick, run down and overtrained it becomes very difficult to stay injury free. So, how do you keep the consistency of regular exercise, without over doing it and becoming sick or injured?
Amateur and professional athletes alike are constantly battling with the problem of overtraining. Being able to juggle just the right amount of training, with enough sleep and rest, and the perfect nutritional diet is not an easy act to master.
So, what is overtraining? Overtraining is the result of giving your body more work or stress than it can handle. Overtraining occurs when a person experiences stress and physical trauma from exercise faster than their body can repair the damage.
Now this doesn’t happen overnight, or as a result of one or two work-outs. In fact, regular exercise is extremely beneficial to your general health and fitness, but you must remember that it’s exercise that breaks your body down, while it’s the rest and recovery that makes you stronger and healthier. Improvements only occur during the times of rest.
Remember stress can come from a multitude of sources. It’s not just physical stress that causes overtraining. Sure, excessive exercise may lead to overtraining, but don’t forget to consider other stresses, such as school, family or work commitments. Remember, stress is stress, whether it’s a physical, mental or emotional stress, it still has the same effect on your health and well-being.
Symptoms of Overtraining
If you overtrain and don’t give your body time to recover, you might experience:
- Joint pain and/or muscle pain
- Abnormal levels of fatigue
- Increased body fat
- Sleep disruption
- Washed-out feeling, tired, drained, lack of energy
- Mild leg soreness, general aches and pains
- Pain in muscles and joints
- Sudden drop in performance
- Decreased immunity (increased number of colds, and sore throats)
- Decrease in training capacity / intensity
- Moodiness and irritability
- Loss of enthusiasm for the sport
- Decreased appetite
- Increased incidence of injuries
Sports conditioning requires a balance between overload and recovery. Too much of one or the other may result in both physical and psychological symptoms of overtraining syndrome. Recognizing signs of overtraining can help you change your routine to prevent problems from progressing, or even starting in the first place.
Overtraining syndrome frequently occurs in athletes who are training for competition or a specific event and train beyond the body’s ability to recover. Athletes often exercise longer and harder so they can improve. But without adequate rest and recovery, these training regimens can backfire, and actually decrease performance.
Conditioning requires a balance between overload and recovery. Too much overload and/or too little recovery may result in both physical and psychology symptoms of overtraining syndrome.
If you think you’re overtraining, rest for a few days between workouts. For symptoms associated with exercise that go beyond minimal levels of discomfort, seek medical attention.
Repairing the Damage
While prevention should always be your aim, there will be times when overtraining will occur and you’ll need to know what to do to get back on track.
Your first priority is to put your feet up and take a rest. Anywhere from 3 to 5 days should do the trick, depending on how severe the overtraining is. During this time forget about exercise, your body needs a rest so give it one. A physical rest, as well as a mental rest. There’s no point in beating yourself up mentally over losing a few days exercise.
For athletes who want to achieve certain goals, consult with a professional athletic trainer or personal trainer who is knowledgeable in the specific sport. Even if you only use a trainer on occasion, stick to their guidelines. If they’re good at what they do, they can help you achieve the next level without taking you past your limits.