Overtraining: Knowing when it's time to just relax!

07.11.2012 / Blog Posts Health and Wellness

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Becky Johnson, Certified Personal Trainer (ACE); IBNFC Certified Nutrition Coach

As a trainer, I preach to my clients every day and all day long about the things they should and should not do. I feel like a broken record sometimes but I know if I repeat myself enough, it will eventually sink in, right? Maybe I need to listen to myself more!

This past week and last weekend I just wasn’t into my workouts. I did them but not with the same energy I usually have. I love to workout. Yes, I’m one of those crazy people who look forward to going to the gym, but it seems like lately thats changed. I was just going through the motions. During my workouts, I’m always thinking about which muscles I’m working and focusing on how they move and the strength of the muscle. It may sound odd to some but it helps me make sure I’m using my body to its greatest potential.

I don’t want to waste my time so I make it as efficient as possible. I try to put aside thoughts of work issues, piles of laundry and what to make for dinner!

Last weekend I felt like my whole body was made of lead - especially my legs. Going up and done the stairs was a chore. I was irritable at the smallest things and my knees, shoulder and back ached. In the last couple of weeks, I had injured my shoulder (the docter said my supraspinatus was inflamed and my sub scapulae had turned off!), more than likely from overuse. I had to work all day on Saturday and came home and took a nap and I am not a napping kind of person. I just wasn’t myself. Then the light bulb went off over my head - OVERTRAINING you big dummy!

I had exhibited all classic signs of overtraining and refused to see them. I can spot them in my clients, but was blind to my own symptoms! So what did I do? I made a plan to take a few days off from training. Then ease back into some moderate exercise. I also realized I wasn't drinking enough water. Even though it was hot outside and I thought I was drinking enough, I wasn’t replenishing enough fluids to replace what I had lost.

I also got back on track with my food journal to see where I may have slipped in my nutrition. Working out requires a balance between overload and recovery. Too much overload and too little recovery can lead you to overtraining.

Common Warning Signs of Overtraining
*Washed out feeling, tired, drained, lack of energy
*Mild leg soreness, general aches and pains
*Pain in joints and muscles
*Sudden drop in performance
*Decreased immunity to colds and/or sore throats
*Decrease in training capacity/intensity
*Moodiness and irritability
*Loss of enthusiasum for sport
*Decreased appetite
*A compulsive need to exercise

How To Treat Overtraining
*Rest and Recover- Reduce or stop exercise and allow yourself a few days of rest.
*Hydrate- Drink plenty of fluids and alter your diet if necessary.
*Begin Cross Training- This often helps athletes who are overworking certain muscles or suffering from mental fatigue.
*Get a sports massage- This may help relax you mentally and physically.

Professional athletes like the Redskins have spcifically created exercise regimes that are designed to avoid circumstances like overtraining. Their workouts and their health are monitored very carefully to make sure they are at their peak of performance during the football season. Overtraining in a professional athlete could lead to career altering injuries so great care is taken so that doesn’t happen.

For the recreational fitness athlete, the symptoms and warning signs are the same but can be recognized and adjustments made in order to keep you healthy and to be able to continue your path to optimal fitness.

Stay Fit and Healthy,

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