I see it all the time. In an effort to increase performance, have sculpted muscles or to lose weight, people can sometimes go overboard and train too much!
Like most things too much or too little of a good thing can have consequences.
You can be overreaching. The Hospital for Special surgery defines overreaching as “is muscle soreness above and beyond what you typically experience that occurs when you don’t sufficiently recover between workouts. Overreaching usually happens after several consecutive days of hard training and results in feeling run down.” This can be easily overcome with rest.
Without adequate rest, multiple systems in your body don’t adapt well and can cause symptoms in multiple body systems such as psychological, neurological, and immune. This can be characterized by mood changes such as fatigue, depression, loss of motivation. The nervous system can be affected, and overtraining can result in sleep disturbances, agitation, restlessness, fast heartbeat and or high blood pressure. Other manifestations can be loss of appetite, inability to concentrate, heavy, sore, or stiff muscles, sleep that is not refreshing. 1
There are no tests that can give you a definitive diagnosis. A combination of hormone changes such as a blunted response to cortisol, late growth hormone response, low testosterone to estradiol ratio as well as high levels of neurotransmitters such as epinephrine (adrenaline), and as well as psychological symptoms, EKG, EEG, and immune patterns were identified as potentially diagnostic. The combinations of these may be required to make a diagnosis. 2,3 These changes can have serious consequences.
You may be saying you are not an athlete, and this doesn’t apply to you. However, working out and pushing yourself if you are under stress, undernourished, lack sleep, or are run down or working or studying long hours can have consequences. In a study comparing healthy adults to athletes found the same things. No one factor was causing this syndrome and symptoms. The study found that a combination of insufficient caloric, protein or carbohydrate intake, bad sleep quality and excessive mental effort from work or study were contributing factors. 3,4
When NOT to Push Yourself
The National Association of Sports Medicine defines what to look for. They recommend before any workout to ask yourself some questions such as:
- Did you sleep well last night?
- Was your a.m. resting heart rate regular (for you)?
- Have you taken in enough nutrition and fluids today?
If the answer is no, dial back your workout.
- Are you battling any major life stressors?
- Are you dreading the workout or thinking about skipping it?
- Do you feel more sore or achy than usual?
- Do you have an illness or injury?
If the answer is yes, you may not be in top form to deal with a hard workout.
Signs of Overtraining
- A plateau- you just can’t do as much.
- Exercise feels harder even with normal or easy workouts.
- Excess sweating or overheating
- Heavy, stiff, sore muscles
- Lack of feeling refreshed after exercise.
- Recurrent injuries
- Lack of motivation or enthusiasm for exercise
- Low energy, fatigue, or exhaustion throughout the day
- Loss of joy or enjoyment
- Changes in sleep or sleep quality
- Difficulty concentrating
You don’t have to be an athlete to over train. The changes in your mind and body may cause you to gain weight when you are trying to lose, get sick or get injured. Be mindful that life stressors, diet and sleep play a role. If you need help with a deeper look at your diet, hormones and nutritional status, apply for a free, no obligation clarity call to see if we are a good fit.
- Kreher JB, Schwartz JB. Overtraining Syndrome. Sports Health. 2012;4(2):128-138. doi:10.1177/1941738111434406
- Carrard J, Rigort AC, Appenzeller-Herzog C, et al. Diagnosing Overtraining Syndrome: A Scoping Review. Sports Health. 2021;14(5):665-673. doi:10.1177/19417381211044739
- Cadegiani FA, Kater CE. Novel causes and consequences of overtraining syndrome: the EROS-DISRUPTORS study. BMC Sports Sci Med Rehabil. 2019;11:21. doi:10.1186/s13102-019-0132-x
- Cadegiani FA, Kater CE. Novel insights of overtraining syndrome discovered from the EROS study. BMJ Open Sport Exerc Med. 2019;5(1):e000542. doi:10.1136/bmjsem-2019-000542
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