|Preventing Overtraining - When Less Is More|
When decreasing your training improves performance
Overtraining syndrome frequently occurs in athletes who are training for competition or a specific event and train beyond the body's ability to recover. Athletes often exercise longer and harder so they can improve. But without adequate rest and recovery, these training regimens can backfire, and actually decrease performance.
Conditioning requires a balance between overload and recovery. Too much overload and/or too little recovery may result in both physical and psychology symptoms of overtraining syndrome.
Common warning signs of overtraining include:
* Washed-out feeling, tired, drained, lack of energy
* Mild leg soreness, general achiness
* Pain in muscles and joints
* Sudden drop in performance
* Decreased immunity (increased number of colds, and sore throats)
* Decrease in training capacity / intensity
* Moodiness and irritability
* Loss of enthusiasm for the sport
* Decreased appetite
* Increased incidence of injuries.
It's hard to predict overtraining since everyone's body is different. It is important, however, to vary training through the year and schedule in significant rest time.
Treating Overtraining Syndrome
If you suspect you are overtraining, the first thing to do is reduce or stop your exercise and allow a few days of rest. Drink plenty of fluids, and alter your diet if necessary. Crosstraining can help you discover if you are overworking certain muscles and also help you determine if you are just mentally fatigued. A sports massage can help you recharge overused muscles.
There are several ways you can objectively measure some signs of overtraining. One is by documenting your heart rates over time. Track your aerobic heart rate at a specific exercise intensities and speed throughout your training and write it down. If your pace starts to slow, your resting heart rate increases and you experience other symptoms, you may heading into overtraining syndrome.
You can also track your morning heart rate to determine your recovery.
A training log that includes a note about how your feel each day can help you notice downward trends and decreased enthusiasm. It's important to listen to your body signals and rest when you feel tired.
You can also ask those around you if they think you are exercising too much.
Research on overtraining syndrome shows rest is the primary treatment plan. Some new evidence indicating that low levels of exercise (active recovery) during the rest period will speed recovery. Moderate exercise has also been shown to increase immunity. Total recovery can take several weeks and includes proper nutrition and stress reduction.
Overtraining syndrome is easily preventable. Unfortunately, athletes wait too long before realizing it's time to do something. An important component of exercise is to objectively measure your training and modify it before damage is done.
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