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The Dangers of Overtraining are Real

Dedicated athletes train hard and push their limits. But there’s a fine line between a strenuous training load and an overreaching one. So, it’s important to understand the symptoms and dangers of overtraining syndrome. Amature and elite athletes alike run the risk of health complications and injury from overtraining. In addition, if you don’t get enough rest and recovery, you can see a decline in performance.

What is Overtraining Syndrome?

Essentially, overtraining syndrome is your body’s response to excessive physical activity without proper rest and recovery. As a result, a combination of neurological, hormonal, and biological factors leads to fatigue and lower sports performance. The loss of performance could last for several weeks or months.  

Symptoms of Overtraining 

The main symptom of overtraining syndrome is performance loss. Athletes may notice a decrease in strength and conditioning despite increasing their training regimen. Other symptoms include:

  • Fatigue
  • Disrupted sleep 
  • Mood swings
  • Behavior changes
  • Decreased urination
  • Increased infection risk

Overtraining Factors 

Numerous factors can trigger overtraining, and no single element is the sole cause. For example, we know that athletes who neglect their nutrition, sleep, and recovery are at risk for overtraining syndrome. In addition, there is a long list of behavioral, external, and internal factors, but experts lack a clear understanding of the root cause.

Behavioral Factors

  • Poor nutrition
  • Bad sleeping habits
  • Inadequate rest and recovery
  • Prolonged or monotonous exercise
  • Increased training load

External Factors

  • Life stressors
  • High Altitude
  • Distrusted sleep
  • Too many competitions
  • Heat-related injury

Internal Factors

  • Previous illness
  • Overworked muscles
  • Low muscle glycogen
  • Reduced glutamine 
  • Increased oxidative stress 
  • Hormonal changes
  • Decreased serotonin levels
  • Low sympathetic nervous activation

FAQ: When should I rest from sports training? 

Sometimes athletes can push themselves too hard. Depending on your level of training, take a rest day every three to five days. Or more frequently if you’re starting. Likewise, it’s vital to rest at least 6 hours between workouts and limit each bout to under 2 hours. You should also rest from exercise following illness or injury, after heat stroke, and during stressful life events. 

Avoiding the Dangers of Overtraining  

They say prevention is the best medicine. Athletes who maintain balanced nutrition, rest, and exercise will likely prevent complications from overtraining. For example, an experienced runner knows to taper before a marathon. Essential prevention tips are:

  • Adjust volume and intensity 
  • Eat enough calories 
  • Drink enough water
  • Get enough sleep
  • Rest and recover

These tips represent a holistic approach to their overall health, including balanced nutrition, sleep, and recovery. With proper guidance and direction, you can avoid the dangers of overtraining. 

At Churchill Orthopedic Rehabilitation, we work with athletes to develop goal-driven plans that achieve optimal results. Schedule a free consultation today.

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