Avoiding Overtraining: Not Just For Elite Athletes Anymore

Most people have deluded themselves into thinking that all those big name sports injuries were reserved just for the professional or elite athletes.

Not true, my friend.  Not true.

How can you explain to a newbie exerciser that they have tennis elbow and haven’t picked up a tennis racket in close to a decade?

How do you show a sometimes exerciser that an inflamed Achilles tendon is a good reason to take a day off from their workouts?

Or worst of all, how can you tell someone who is trying hard to get in shape for a vacation or a wedding that they are flirting with over-training and very quickly can flush all their achievements to date down the toilet?

Call it what you want, but none of the above scenarios are easy to navigate.

Overuse injuries, over-training, none of it is fun and those are words that no one wants to hear.

How come?

Because once you hit either overuse or over-training, you will have a long road back.  It’s not a case of taking a week off.  Let’s think more along the line of a month, minimum with a significantly decreased exercise regimen.  That is enough to drive any almost vacationer or wedding event person off their rocker.

I’ll group overuse injuries and over-training together because they really do work together and can be found frequently in a matched set.

What is over-training?

Over-training is a condition where the body has done too much without adequate rest, sleep or nutrition to be able to sustain the same level of training or same training volume as before.  This is common for endurance athletes.

However it is not purely the domain of endurance athletes.

Over-training could be a possibility if you’ve fallen flat in your last workout without any other reasonable explanation and a few days of rest does nothing to improve your performance.  If you start to struggle with workouts you have previously excelled in, chances are, you could be over-training.

Here are some more symptoms of over-training to be watching out for:

1. Fatigue

2. Problems with sleep, as in poor quality or restlessness

3. Loss of interest in workouts or other daily activities

4. Muscle soreness that persists longer than usual

5. Nagging injuries that don’t seem to heal (i.e. overuse injuries)

6. Raised resting heart rate (taken first thing in the morning over several days)

7. Decreased appetite or bouts of nausea

8. Weight loss

9. Frequent infections

10. Changes in moods, increased irritability or depression

11. For women, Amennorrhea

The main thing with over-training is prevention.  Knowing the signs is the first step towards preventing this very frustrating condition.  Allow yourself adequate rest days between hard workouts and if you ever think that you might be flirting with over-training, then that is immediate cause for a day off.

Once you hit the point of over-training, that is when you know you have zero options other than to back off, rest and recover.  As I mentioned above, it may take only a month to recover, however, depending on the damage that you’ve done, it can take significantly longer to get back to your normal healthy self.

Pay attention to how you’re feeling.

Feed yourself plenty of food to nourish your body and recover from your workouts.

But most importantly, give yourself some space to listen to the cues that your body gives you.  Learning this skill will pay off major dividends every single day of your life.

Those cues may be the exact thing you need in order to prevent overuse injuries or over-training.

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