overtraining syndrome and how to avoid it

How to Avoid Overtraining & Why Is It Important

We all know how important it is to stay active and exercise regularly. However, some athletes and gym-goers, who are over-focused on progression and performance, can train too long and push too hard. Yes, it’s in our nature to strive for perfection, but we always have to consider our abilities and limitations to avoid overtraining syndrome that can be a serious issue to our mental and physical health. Unfortunately, for some people, it can be difficult to distinguish overtraining early symptoms. 

a man lying on the tennis court

To help you avoid overtraining problems, we’ll discuss here this hot concern and provide you with expert recommendations on how to deal with overtraining symptoms.   

What is Overtraining Syndrome?

Overtraining syndrome or OST is a phenomenon that may affect fit individuals. It happens when an athlete works out more than his/her body can recover from, to the point where performance declines. 

Many fitness fans are obsessed with their workouts and afraid to rest. They think that the more they train, the faster they’ll achieve their fitness goals, despite evidence to the contrary. Doing more work than it’s possible to physically tolerate, athletes can’t fully recover from the standard 2-3 days of rest. Some of them reach the chronic phase when they need up to several weeks of rest to recover. 

Overtraining Syndrome Symptoms

As we touched on above, it may be difficult to identify or diagnose overtraining since lots of athletes consider the ongoing fatigue a normal part of workouts. So, if you’ve noticed several mentioned-below signs or symptoms, it’s time to set aside your sports shoes and finally schedule rest days. 

  • Your regular workout routine takes more effort to complete, it seems like you work harder even though your body works at its usual rate. This is one of the most common overtraining symptoms in bodybuilding. 
  • You have a high heart rate while you’re training and a higher resting heart rate during the rest of the day. Besides, the heart rate might take longer to return to its normal rate when you finish the session.
  • When you push yourself past your personal limits during a sweat session, it can lead to muscle strain and pain. Consistent soreness or pain are symptoms of overtraining and muscle recovery within a few weeks is a must for you. 
  • Highly motivated runners often suffer from overuse injuries like stress fractures, plantar fasciitis, shin splints, joint strains, soft tissue injuries, and even broken bones, all of these are the most painful and severe overtraining symptoms.  
  • Consistent overtraining leads to hormonal imbalance. Hormonal imbalance, in turn, is often associated with loss of muscle mass, poor appetite, weight loss, or, contrary, weight gain, and potbelly.
  • Overtraining causes your performance to decrease. You’ll find you have less agility, strength, and endurance, it’ll slow your reaction and speed. 
  • Excessive training weakens an athlete’s immune system making them prone to mild illnesses, upper respiratory and tract infections. 
a girl wipes her face

Mental Symptoms

  • Consistent overtraining leads not only to physical but also mental exhaustion. You’ll find it difficult to achieve your fitness goals, plus, you may feel totally dissatisfied with yourself. 
  • If your body repeatedly doesn’t fully recover after the workout, you’ll feel excessively drained almost all the time. Besides, you can feel fatigued if you don’t get enough fuel before the session.
  • One of the frequent overtraining symptoms is insomnia. Due to hormonal imbalance, it might be challenging to relax and let the tension go at bedtime. Lack of good, uninterrupted sleep can also lead to mood changes and chronic fatigue.
  • OST impacts stress hormone levels that can cause mental fog, mood changes, restlessness, depression, and lack of concentration. 

How to Treat Overtraining Syndrome?

If you want to reduce overtraining symptoms and recover as soon as possible, quality, long rest is the most important thing for you. You have to take a break from exercising and totally relax – slow down in all areas of your life.   

Get a professional massage that targets injured muscles. Choose sports massage or deep-tissue massage to relieve muscle tension. You can also do self-massage using muscle balm or essential oils. Sauna and a hot bath are great options to soothe sore muscles too. 

All these procedures will not only relax your body, but they’ll also help you unwind mentally. You’ll be able to recharge your internal batteries. 

Recovery time 

Recovery time varies and depends on the individual’s physical and mental condition. Typically, if you take a total break from physical training, you may see improvements after 2-3 weeks. However, full recovery can take up to 3 months. 

You can do gentle exercise to stay fit and active during this period, just listen carefully to your body. If you start experiencing overtraining symptoms again, return to resting.

How to Avoid Overtraining Syndrome?

To avoid overtraining syndrome, schedule regular rest days, especially if your workouts are long and demanding. Take a break from working a certain muscle group for 1-2 days if you do resistance or weight training. On the other hand, don’t allow too long intervals between training sessions. In addition, include rest periods during the workout. Rest lapse can be anywhere between 30 seconds and 5 minutes. If needed, reduce the intensity and volume of your exercise. 

Consider active rest days with low-impact exercises like swimming, walking, gentle stretching, or yoga. It’ll relax muscle tightness and help you stay fit and active while resting from strenuous workouts. Besides, varying the activities will help you develop the entire body. Do relaxing exercises, e.g., meditation to balance stress levels. 

And last but not least, make sure you get enough calories and proper nutrition to sustain your sweat session. Eat a well-balanced diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, protein, carbs, and healthy fats.

To sum up, without enough rest, you won’t be able to achieve your fitness goals. If you have recognized warning symptoms, do give your body time to recover, this is the best thing you can do for fitness success.

About: Thomas Nemel

Thomas Nemel is a fitness fan and blogger who enjoys writing posts on topics related to sports, sports gear, and fitness nutrition. In his free time, you’ll find him walking around the town with his retriever Bongo.

Author: Guest Author

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