As an athlete, you always want to be the best that you can be in your preferred sport and when major events are on the horizon, you feel like you need to push yourself even more in order to get ready for them. While this may sound like a great idea (i.e. the harder you train, the better the results will be), this is not always the case. Often, athletes compromise on rest and push themselves even more because they feel like they haven’t done enough. As a result, they do not allow their bodies enough time to recover. When the balance between working out and recovery is disrupted, they start to show signs and symptoms of over-training. The problem is that over-training can have long-term repercussions if ignored, which can be physical as well as psychological. Keep reading for more information of the signs of over-training and some tips on how to keep it in check.
Signs of Overtraining
As we mentioned above, over-training comes with both physical as well as psychological signs. Keep an eye on the following signs :
- Halted or slowed progress – You start noticing that your progress starts to slow down and is even non-existent. Plateaus are common, however it if lasts for a longer period than you are accustomed to, this may be a sign of over-training. Your body needs to rest in order to tackle the next challenge.
- Decreased motivation – While it is not a big deal to skip a workout from time to time, if you start to notice that you are missing more and more workouts or training sessions, this may be a sign of over-training. This is linked to the slowed progress we mentioned above. Slowed progress can make you feel demotivated.
- More frequent and increased injuries – When an athlete is over-training, they are overworking their joints and muscles which means their bodies have a harder time recovering from all the strain. This can lead to more frequent injuries, or longer recovery time for existing injuries. If this sounds familiar, it might be time for some rest. If you keep going, you will injure yourself and possibly make things worse in the long run.
- Depression – Similar to decreased motivation, except in this case, your passion for the sport is not enough to motivate you into getting better. For the more serious athletes, a lack of results can have a huge impact on their mental health. Every athlete wants see his or her desired results as they continue to work work harder, and when they don’t see it, this can lead to depression. If this sounds familiar, it’s time to take a break to not only give your body time to recover, but your mind as well. It’s also important to talk to someone about this and to get the help that you need to overcome it.
- Insomnia – Under normal circumstances, you are likely to sleep better after a workout. However, if you are getting to the point where sleeping is becoming an issue, then it’s time to re-evaluate your routine. Insomnia is often the result of an overload on the nervous system and/or hormonal system. It’s could be your body’s way of telling you that you need to take a step back and rest.
- Extended muscle soreness – After a workout, it is normal to have some muscle soreness but on the other hand it should not last long. If it is extended for more than normal (i.e.: longer than 72 hours), then it is time to look at your training schedule and slot in some time to rest.
A Few Tips…
Once you realize that you are over-training or suspect that you are, it’s time to get it under control before things get worse. Here are a few tips that might help:
- Rest and recover – This one is very obvious, but often overlooked. This is where to need to reduce or stop the training sessions altogether. This will help you to relax and give your body some much-needed rest, which will help your muscles and joints to recover. If you have to keep training, try to dedicate as much time to resting as possible in between training sessions.
- Go for a sport massage – A sport massage is recommended to help you relax both mentally as well as physically. Not only that, a good sports massage therapist will tackle the right pain points and should be able to relieve the soreness in your muscles and joints.
- Hydrate – Keep in mind that over-training damages your muscles and tissues. It is important that you drink a lot of fluids to help your body recuperate. In addition, you can also alter your diet to incorporate foods that will help you to recover fast.
- Start cross training – Cross training is basically the practice of doing two or more sports or types of training in order to improve your overall fitness performance. By spreading out the level of stress over different (often unused) muscles and joints, allows individuals to train more frequently without putting excess overload on the more vulnerable areas of the body (e.g., feet/ankles, back, knees, hips and shoulders).
We hope that this gives you a good idea on the signs and symptoms you need to watch out for in order to avoid over-training. When in doubt, rest. We know that it’s not always easy to do considering the competitive world we live in, but it’s still a must. If you find that your aches and pains are getting worse, or your motivation is decreasing more and more, it’s probably time to consult your doctor for some assistance in getting through it. Before you head out, have a look at some of our products to see if might apply to your situation.