Overtraining Syndrome: What is it and how to prevent it?
Due to COVID-19, a lot of high school and collegiate athletes saw their seasons cut short this past Spring. As students begin classes again this Fall, there are still questions around resuming athletics. Some may be back with regular schedules, less competitions, or no competition at all with Fall sports being designated to next Spring. However, this has not appeared to alter any training for these athletes. For most, it seems as if they are training just as they would any other year for their sport. That begs the question, are these athletes overtraining?
It makes sense that athletes would typically train hard during a season with actual competitions; however, adjusting to seasons without it, it would seem like such training could lead to injury or overtraining syndrome (OTS). Overtraining syndrome can be described as a long performance decrease of 2 months or greater that can be resolved with an appropriate rest period. It also includes changes to other systems. Similar to OTS, overreaching can be either positive or negative. Functional overreaching is more short term overtraining that requires a shorter recovery period that can have a positive outcome on performance. Whereas non-functional overreaching is more long term that can have full recovery but overall a negative effect due to loss of training time for the extended rest period.
Some key signs you may be overtraining include but are not limited to the following: A compulsive need to exercise, increased rate of injuries, change in mood, loss of enthusiasm, and reduced training capacity. Some recommendations to monitor risk for OTS revolve around heart rate monitoring. Whether it be throughout your training with specific intensities of exercise, or at rest each morning. Some things to consider if you believe you may be overtraining are cross training, getting a sports massage, taking in plenty of fluids and allowing yourself to get some rest.
It is always important to remember that you know your body better than anyone else. So if you feel you may be experiencing OTS or heading toward non-functional overreaching, be sure to speak up. Especially during sports this Fall where it is okay to take extended periods of rest with no competitions happening. This can allow for a revamping of your whole training plan.