What Is Overtraining Syndrome, And How To Resolve It?

Overtraining syndrome, also called overtraining burnout, is the unexplained underperformance within sport and exercise that can affect everyone from professional to recreational athletes.

Within the past year, there has been an increase in physiotherapy patients presenting with signs and symptoms of this phenomenon, often through overload injuries such as tennis elbow, runners’ knee, Achilles and patella tendinopathy, and others.

Due to the continuing worldwide Covid-19 pandemic, many of us have taken up new sports or intensified our exercise regimes, and sometimes, we over commit to more than our bodies are capable of tolerating. Whether we use exercise to improve our performance, keep fit and healthy, lose weight, or for enjoyment, it is important that we understand how best to balance exercise and rest to allow our bodies to recover, and subsequently perform at its best.

What Are The Signs Of Overtraining Syndrome?

Overtraining burnout often has broader implications beyond a limited sports performance. If you think you may be suffering from overtraining, here are some signs and symptoms to look out for:

  • Fatigue
  • Increased effort during exercise
  • Excessive muscle soreness
  • Decreased sleep quality
  • Mood swings
  • Loss of appetite
  • Loss of drive and motivation
  • Decreased libido
  • Excessive sweating
  • Frequent cold or illness

4 Tips To Reverse The Effects of Overtraining

1. Reduce exercise load to allow the body to recover. This can be done through complete rest (often recommended) or decreasing the intensity of training.

2. Reviewing your training goals. This is important to reduce the potential for overtraining. Setting measurable and realistic goals is a great way to prevent burnout and overuse injuries.

3. Schedule recovery weeks into your training program. Allow for a more comprehensive recovery by including multiple day periods without any exercise.

4. Introduce cross training. This will allow for sport specific rest days, while allowing you to work out and challenge your body through other activities.

Recovery From Overtraining Burnout

Overtraining syndrome can take several weeks to fully resolve depending on your body’s ability to recover. As health professionals, we strongly encourage patients to listen to how their bodies are responding to their current exercise habits.  The earlier the symptoms of overtraining are recognised, the quicker steps can be taken to aid in recovery and resumption of normal activity.

How Physiotherapy Can Help

Whether it is through a programme to aid in reducing imbalances created through overtraining, developing a better understanding of injury and load management, or by simply working to aid in the recovery through a variety of techniques like manual therapy and electrotherapy, physiotherapy offers multiple ways of resolving overtraining syndrome.

If you feel that you may be suffering from overtraining burnout, do not hesitate to contact a qualified physiotherapist.

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