For many of us, there is no greater joy than working out at our favorite sport!
The body is a well-oiled machine, but it’s possible to push it too far. This can lead to a condition known as Overtraining Syndrome (or OTS).
When this occurs, it’s important to know what to do next before you cause serious damage to your physical and mental health. This article will help you to know how to recover from overtraining syndrome and why, neither novice nor athlete, should take it lightly!
Keep reading to find out more.
What Is Overtraining?
Let’s first clarify something: overtraining syndrome is not to be confused with simply feeling tired or sore after a workout. While we are all familiar with the phrase, “no pain, no gain”, overtraining is what happens when you work your body past its goal of super-compensation.
This usually occurs among athletes training for an upcoming event. Their desire to improve during that time results in them putting themselves under excessive physical and mental stress. Because of this, they can easily begin to neglect some of the fundamental rules of training like proper hydration or quality of rest.
As a result, the body fails at muscle recovery, and instead enters a consistent downward spiral of physical and mental performance. This can take months, or even years, to recover from.
The cause of OTS may differ from one person to another, but individuals should be aware of when it’s taking place. Ignoring it can cause serious mental and physical injuries.
Signs of Overtraining
In the same way that OTS causes may vary, so can symptoms. Signs include:
- Lack of energy, impaired performance, lack of motivation to train
- Insomnia and restlessness
- Headaches, aches, and pains in muscles and joints
- Loss of appetite and severe weight loss
- Emotional disturbances, feeling depressed, anxiety, feeling moody, and irritable
- Mental disturbances, inability to concentrate
- Respiratory issues, Irregular heart rate
- Lower immunity, more colds, and URTIs
Because of the wide variety of overtraining symptoms, OTS can be difficult to diagnose. Therefore, it’s important to do your homework when it comes to knowing if you have fallen victim to the condition.
A great technique is to keep a training log. Tracking your mood, workouts, heart rate, etc. can help you to visually gauge if there are any patterns in your behavior that should be of concern. That way you can detect it as early as possible or avoid it altogether.
How to Recover From Overtraining Syndrome
As previously mentioned, OTS is not a condition to be taken lightly. It can have long-term effects that could potentially span years. So, it’s crucial to act immediately if you start to notice signs emerging.
The good news is, more often than not, OTS is reversible. So here are a few must-do activities for overtraining.
Rest is not only the primary cure but also the primary preventative activity for overtraining syndrome. OTS usually occurs because muscles don’t have enough time to recover between workouts. To prevent overtraining, understanding the value of quality sleep and rest is key! Between 1-2 days rest a week is necessary for allowing your body and mind to recharge.
If overtraining has already kicked in, however, longer periods of rest might be needed. Taking 3 consecutive days off if symptoms have persisted for 3 weeks would be a unit of measure—a day for a week of muscle recovery time. For more serious cases, 2-3 weeks off should be considered. Consult a doctor if this is the case. Once again, be reasonable and sensitive to your body’s needs.
Once this period has passed, and if your symptoms appear to be calming down, the next step is recommended.
Overtraining recovery doesn’t imply becoming stagnant. During OTS it’s still important to stay active with more light and holistic styles of exercise like cross-training; Pilates, swimming, etc.
Once muscles have relaxed in overworked areas, they tend to go into a state of fatigue. Keeping them active, but not, strained is essential for muscle recovery. Cross-training helps you to reduce the volume and intensity of exercise giving your muscles time to recover while dealing with fatigue.
As hard as it may be, avoid returning to your regular routine, especially the sport that likely caused the OTS, until you are well onto the road of recovery. This is because the muscles that have become overtrained need to rest from the activities that caused the condition in the first place.
Reduce Mental Stress
This may be one of the most overlooked aspects of overtraining but it should not be neglected. The mind needs rest, just as the body does. Again, keeping a journal of your mood can help you to monitor your mental progress on your road to OTS recovery.
Having a good support system of friends, family, and even professional therapists can give you have the right tools to overcome the mental aspects of overtraining. If people are discouraging you from resting, muster up the courage to distance yourself from this type of company at this stage. You can choose what to do with them after.
Focus on Your Diet
Your diet should focus primarily on hydration and protein and healthy fat intake—the triad of muscle recovery. Avoid sugary foods and drinks at all costs!
Healthy fats will help to regulate the hormone system while proteins will aid in repairing muscle tissue. Drinking plenty of water will help to keep your muscles detoxed and flexible while giving your body the necessary minerals needed to function.
The Prevention Is Better Than the Cure
Overtraining is not to be confused with weakness, but it is often left down to inexperience.
Knowing how to recover from overtraining is far less important than learning how to prevent it altogether. Having professional support while training is a sure-fire way to ensure you are gaining the fruits of your labor.
Why not contact us and find out which of our training programs will help you level up without falling into the trap of overtraining? Your future self will thank you for it!
Let us help you out.
We can get you setup with a periodized workout plan, supplement information, and advice on nutrition to help you reach your goals.
Personal trainers, like those found here, can help guide you on your pathway towards reaching your fitness goals, whether that is getting bigger, stronger, faster, more lean, or just staying in shape while stuck at home.
The only thing you need is some motivation and a willingness to change some old habits.
Get into contact with us to find out what membership is right for you. In a Conditionerd program, you’ll be surrounded by others who can help you to get where you want to be.
Generally, our clients start to see some pretty awesome changes in 2-3 months time, some sooner.