Overtraining

Many athletes have one or more episodes of overtraining during their career. Overtraining can be a serious problem. It often has a negative effect on your performance. This condition is hard to diagnose. It is related to declining performance, fatigue, altered mood, muscle soreness, and a feeling of being burned out. The extent of the condition varies between athletes. Symptoms may have different origins: mind (psychological), body (physiological), or mind and body (psychosomatic).

SYMPTOMS

  • Declining performance.

  • Fatigue.

  • Tension.

  • Sleep problems.

  • Muscle fatigue.

  • Anger.

  • Loss of appetite.

  • Loss of sexual interest.

  • Irregular menstrual periods.

  • Depression.

  • Abnormal sense perceptions.

CAUSES

  • High intensity, frequency, or duration of physical training.

  • Sleep problems.

  • Travel.

  • Use of certain medicines.

  • Drinking alcohol.

RISK INCREASES WITH:

  • Poor general health.

  • Poor general nutrition.

  • Mood state.

  • Type A personality.

  • Age.

  • Males.

  • Menstrual cycle.

PREVENTION

It is important to include alternating aspects of training (periodization) in your training schedule. This reduces the risk of overtraining. Periodization includes planned changes in exercise volume that are coordinated with dates of competitions. This method maximizes performance and minimizes the risk of overtraining. Coaches often set such schedules with their athletes. However, if you design your own training schedule, it is important to use a similar alternating method.

TREATMENT

The best way to treat overtraining is by not allowing it to happen. Plan training schedules that include changes in exercise volume. The only way to treat an existing case of overtraining is to rest. Rest is advised for about 2 weeks. Once activity is resumed, you should begin with a low exercise volume. Increase the frequency, intensity and length of exercise gradually. If symptoms begin again during recovery, it is important to take a step back in your recovery progression. It is also important to seek medical attention, to rule out other medical conditions that may be the cause of your symptoms (malnutrition, depression, thyroid disease, anemia).