We all understand how important exercise is for the body, mind, and spirit. What many do not realize is that if you are chronically ill, injured, sleep-deprived, on a caloric restrictive diet, it’s possible for you to be overtraining at a much lower level of physical activity. The consequences can have a profound impact on your overall health and wellbeing.
From the competitive runner, cyclist, exercise enthusiast that does CrossFit, weight training, high-intensity interval training, or the weekend warrior participating in a Tough Mudder all are at potential risk for overtraining.
It doesn’t take much to be on a downward spiral. It is estimated that 61% of all serious runners go through a period of overtraining in their career.
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The key to recovery is to reduce or stop anything more than moderate physical activity for some time. How long depends on symptoms severity and how long you’ve been overtraining. Focus on gentle activities for recovery such as walking in nature, yoga, or massage. Address any underlying stress-induced HPA-Axis dysregulation, inflammation, gut dysbiosis, nutrient depletion, hormone imbalances, and oxidative stress. Get plenty of sleep and nap during the day. Ensure you do not restrict calories or diet once overtrained. Your body needs an adequate supply of macronutrients especially protein and micronutrients.
Overtraining syndrome occurs when an athlete doesn’t adequately recover after repetitive intense training, and can include fatigue, declining performance and potential injury.
It’s admirable to train hard to succeed in your chosen sport. Logging many miles, spending hours at the gym and working hard day after day can certainly help you achieve your athletic goals. But too much training without sufficient recovery can hinder your progress — and even lead to a decline in your performance.
There are two classifications for too much exercise: overreaching and overtraining.
Overreaching is muscle soreness above and beyond what you typically experience that occurs when you don’t sufficiently recover between workouts. Overreaching usually happens after several consecutive days of hard training and results in feeling run down. Luckily, the effects of overreaching can be easily reversed with rest.
Overtraining occurs when an athlete ignores the signs of overreaching and continues to train. Many athletes believe that weakness or poor performance signals the need for even harder training, so they continue to push themselves. This only breaks down the body further.
It may be hard to know when you’re overtraining. “It’s natural and expected to feel fatigued after challenging training sessions,” Dr. Goolsby says. “But feeling like you aren’t recovering between sessions or experiencing overall fatigue and difficulty pushing yourself during workouts can be indicators of overtraining.”
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