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Overtraining: Is It Possible To Exercise Too Much?

As a coach, I have always had to watch my athletes for signs of overtraining. People who get a taste of performance improvement often think more is better, so they sometimes overdo it. And overtraining is a real thing. A 1992 review (PDF) in the Journal of Athletic Training cites five common signs of overtraining:

 

 

  • increased waking heart rate
  • unexplained weight loss
  • prolonged excessive thirst
  • alteration in sleep habits
  • psychological malaise.

If you are bothered by these symptoms, back off from your training regimen. Overtraining is no joke. In severe cases, it leads to overuse injuries, difficulty breathing, bowel disorders, and compromised immunity. If you don’t rest now, in other words, you’re likely to have to rest a great deal later, during recuperation from an injury or illness.

Don’t assume you’re immune to overtraining, just because you’re not a professional athlete. The article cited above said, “Although elite athletes who train heavily are the most likely to experience the syndrome, recreational athletes can also overtrain by doing too much too soon, by failing to get adequate rest between exercise bouts, or by ignoring early indications of overuse injuries.”

How do you avoid overtraining? It’s important to remember that overtraining does not result from too much exercise. It results from insufficient recovery. The sports science theory of supercompensation says fitness improves in a cycle. Beginning at a base level, you start training, and the training damages your body. Then you stop training, and during recovery, your body heals, and in the process of adjusting to the new work load, it increases its fitness above the base level. If you don’t allow for the necessary healing, which usually takes about a day, you won’t improve your performance, and you may injure yourself or become ill.

Recovery is a mixture of sleep, rest, and mild activity (just enough to prevent blood pooling and give your mind a break from your training). Without intervention, recovery takes as long as it takes, no matter how frustrating it is to be resting when you think you should get back out there. There are interventions, however, that can reduce recovery time. And that’s the purpose of Peak Recovery & Health Center: to make those interventions available to you, so your recovery will be more efficient, effective, and maybe even fun.

We offer five recovery interventions:

  • Cryotherapy, which rejuvenates muscles at the cellular level by reducing inflammation
  • Photobiomodulation, which relieves oxidative stress and promotes the cellular production of ATP
  • Compression therapy, which flushes toxins from the blood and prevents blood pooling
  • Infrared sauna, which cleanses at a cellular level by melting the fat bound to toxins
  • Float pod, which provides rest and mental focus by reducing mental and physical stimulation.

Regardless of the level at which you are exercising, you can minimize the risk of overtraining by choosing the right recovery intervention. Give us a call at 603-402-4564. We’ll help you find the best way to avoid overtraining.

Photo: “B Women’s Winner 2” by Taylor Riché. Creative Commons license.