January 25, 2023. 4 minute Read
Do you need help with your exercise/conditioning routine or feeling washed out, stale, and drained?
Perhaps your muscles persistently feel heavy, stiff, and a bit sore, and your exercise program has ceased to be enjoyable. If so, you may be suffering from a condition referred to as “overreaching” or, in more severe cases, “overtraining syndrome.” You can divide Overreaching into two states: one is functional, and another one is nonfunctional states, both of which respond to extra rest.
A nonfunctional -overreaching state leads to a more extended period of decreased performance than functional overreaching. And it is accompanied by neuroendocrine or psychological symptoms.
Technically, Overtraining is severe nonfunctional overreaching, resulting in a prolonged performance decrement (92 months) and more severe symptoms.
Effective conditioning requires a balance between intense training sessions and periods of rest/recovery. Too much overload and/or insufficient recovery can result in physiological and psychological symptoms that limit performance and may cause one to cease participation in a previously enjoyable activity. And because of lack of effective conditioning, the condition often results in inadequate rest/recovery because of busy work lives, family, work and health stressors, meal skipping, and poor sleep.
Sometimes, exercise can become addictive as well because of the effects of endorphins, dopamine, and other exercise-generated factors on the brain. This addiction can easily result in frequent intense training sessions not interspersed with adequate recovery periods.
This phenomenon, especially when combined with the increasing popularity of intense multievent endurance competitions and intense group training programs, places individuals at increased risk for developing a nonfunctional state and overtraining syndrome in more severe cases.
More than 125 signs and symptoms have been identified in published literature, making a definitive diagnosis challenging. But some of the most common symptoms include:
The primary treatment is rest and, in more severe cases, an extended break from training. And also, if you improve your sleep quality with appropriate nutrition and hydration and address nonexercise stressors, you can fully recover from overtraining. Sometimes, your physician may also rule out other potential organic causes related to various illnesses and health conditions.
Prevention of nonfunctional overreaching and overtraining is critical to continue enjoying and benefitting your exercise training program.
With appropriate recovery and a periodization plan for your long-term training, you can minimize the risk of overtraining and keep your exercise and competitions fun and enjoyable. Maintaining a training log can help identify periods of overreaching and the need for extra recovery. Include variables such as your resting heart rate, sleep, weight (for weight loss), mood, workout intensity/duration, and how muscles and joints respond.
Train smart, but don’t train harder.”
Pragyan Dash is an aspiring Sports Medicine specialist and USATF Coach. As a recreational runner & athlete, she wants to see herself as a fitness model. As a brand ambassador for two sports brands, she believes in a cleaner and greener earth.