Overtraining Syndrome – All You Need To Know

Overtraining syndrome refers to a condition where an athlete experiences extreme fatigue, along with a noticeable decline in performance caused by an overly rigorous training regime.


Overtraining is said to affect the overall mood of the athlete, adversely impacting their motivation, increasing the likelihood of injury and an impaired immune system. Overtraining syndrome can lead to burnout, which is caused by the physical and emotional burden of training.


Overtraining generally happens when athletes attempt to increase their performance and endurance in a particular sport with a training regime that pushes their bodies to the limits.


According to a research paper on NCBI, increased loads of exercise can be tolerated in interspersed intervals. However, it cannot be maintained or sustained for an extended period.


An intense training regime requires an equally fierce rest and recovery period. If the athlete does not dedicate time for recovery, it may lead to greater stress and pressure on the body, leading to overtraining syndrome.


In a more scientific definition, the overtraining syndrome is possibly caused by information within the system, which subsequently impacts the central nervous system, leading to mood swings, chronic fatigue, low mood, and other behavioral changes.


In this article, we will cover everything there is known about overtraining syndrome- how it occurs, symptoms to notice, along with all the precautions you need to take to avoid overtraining and burnout.


How To Identify Overtraining Syndrome?


While overtraining is not a medically defined condition, it does have ways to show itself in an athlete. Overtraining syndrome and burnout occur when the athlete pushes their body beyond the limits of its capabilities and does not take care of themselves through active recovery and rest. Here are some warning signs to look out for:


  • The athlete shows less interest and enthusiasm for their sport
  • Athletes self-esteem and worth is tied to their performance
  • Rewards and appreciation are based on the athlete's performance
  • The athlete has not attended 10% or more of their events and has not consulted a doctor.
  • A female athlete older than 16 has not started menstruating due to various factors that stress her emotional or physical health.


What Are Some Of The Symptoms To Look Out For With Overtraining Syndrome?


Is it necessary to catch the signs of overtraining early before it becomes a career-changing mistake for the athlete? Glaring signs of overtraining syndrome include:


  • Drastic weight loss coupled with a loss of appetite
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Longer recovery times
  • General anxiety and increased heartbeat
  • Significant negative impact on performance
  • Mood swings and flare-ups
  • Disruption in sleeping pattern
  • Inability to perform regular routines with enthusiasm
  • Decline school or other performance indicators


How Is Overtraining Syndrome Diagnosed?


While there is no definite diagnosis for overtraining syndrome, most coaches and physiotherapists would judge based on the athlete's performance history, the symptoms shown, and the absence of any other logical explanation for said symptoms.


The most common identifier is any unexplained underperformance issues faced by the athlete. The diagnosis can only be made in retrospect if the athlete experiences symptoms even after rest and recovery.


How Can You Treat Overtraining Syndrome?


REST. Currently, the only treatment for overtraining and burnout is rest and recovery. If an athlete is diagnosed with burnout, they should immediately stop any training or competition for a prolonged duration.


The duration can vary from 4 to 12 weeks. During this time, the athlete should focus their attention on low-intensity exercises that keep them fit end engaged. However, it should not relate to their sport.


Athletes can return to their respective sports when immediate signs of emotional and physical burnout resolve completely.


How Do You Prevent The Overtraining Syndrome In The First Place?


Preventing overtraining and the subsequent burnout is quite simple- it begins with working with coaches and support staff who are primarily focused on improving the athlete's endurance and performance holistically over a long period.


The training regimen should be flexible to the athlete's needs, keeping into account the real-time condition. The regiment should account for a short term within the week and longer breaks during the year.


Additionally, the players should have a supportive family and coach who provide a safe and open environment to learn and talk about their physical and emotional health.


With the right mentorship and guidance, athletes can develop their inherent talent in a sport without overtraining and risking their health in the long term.


Back in the Motion offers players personalized training faculty and physical therapy who use top-notch technology to deliver the best results through a holistic regime designed and customized for each athlete.

About the Author: Dr. Scott Gray

Dr. Scott Gray is the Owner of Back in Motion Physical Therapy & Performance. Each and Every Week He Helps His Clients & Patients Live Their Life to the Fullest, Get Active, and Get Pain-Free.
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