Symptoms of Overtraining

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Metrifit Athlete Monitoring System

Overtraining is an issue that has been discussed and debated by sports professionals at many different levels. This syndrome has the potential to severely impair an athlete’s sporting career, and indeed may cause long-term health implications for the individual. This chronic ailment has many different signs, with some being more obvious than others. These signs can be physiological or psychological in nature. This article will explore the varying types of symptoms associated with overtraining and what this could mean for the athlete in the future.

Persistent Fatigue

One of the most common symptoms of overtraining is constant fatigue. This symptom manifests itself in the athlete in the form of tiredness, lethargy and listlessness, along with signs of poor concentration and poor tolerance of activity. This particular symptom can depend on the length of exercise, so that a sprinter will become fatigued in seconds in association with high lactate levels, while a marathon runner will fatigue after nearly 2 hours due to glycogen depletion. Fatigue in the athlete may limit their actual workouts and can also be present when the athlete is at rest. The constant feeling of tiredness and lack of energy appears to follow the athlete around during both training and normal lifestyle.

Persistent Muscle Soreness / Injuries

Recurring muscle injury is an indication for overtraining in an athlete. Overtraining affects the musculoskeletal system in different ways. Initially it can begin with just general muscle soreness. During this period, the body is subjected to a large amount of stresses which it cannot deal with. Due to the lack of recovery time, coupled with extra intense training sessions, the athlete’s body is unable to deal with the constant pressures exerted upon it. As a result, persistent muscle injuries occur and the athlete must deal with numerous setbacks. Some of the most common areas of injury include back, knee, ankle and foot injuries and this can even lead to abnormal hormone output.

Constant Irritability

Looking more at the psychological aspect of overtraining, the athlete can become constantly irritable when suffering from overtraining. This symptom is one that can fester through a team environment. A combination of disturbed sleep, with lack of rest and hormonal imbalances causes the athlete to feel distant from their sport and makes them lose focus. This together with high blood pressure causes the athlete to become agitated much easier and constantly in an argumentative state. This can then then lead to the athlete becoming less motivated to exercise and in turn impair performance. Most coaches agree that when an athlete becomes irritable following prolonged training sessions, a break from training and increased hours of sleep are usually two of the best

Loss of Appetite

Overtraining can lead to a loss of appetite in the athlete. This would have many knock-on effects and could cause problems. Initially, the lack of food would result in less fuel for the athlete, and in turn would impair performance. From a health point of view, the athlete would be reducing the number of nutrients and vitamins required for daily functioning which could be dangerous in terms of the potential for injury. A healthy, balanced diet is a factor in preventing overtraining syndrome. An adequate intake of carbohydrates and fluids is key to maintaining energy & hydration levels.

What we have looked here at is only a selection of the symptoms of overtraining. If any of these symptoms are present, the athlete should be questioned regarding their training status in an attempt to avoid the condition. Rest and recovery are the best activities for an athlete to combat the syndrome and they should be factored into an athlete’s training regime.