Are you an passionate sports enthusiast? Do you train more and more in order to reach better results? Do you want to be better than the rest? Do you want to be the best? You actively move everyday and when you have a free day you feel culpable? If you have found yourself in this description, pay attention! It is very probable that heading towards “overtraining syndrome”.
If you think that getting into a condition of overtraining is nonsense, when you perceive people around you training harder than you, then you are wrong! On the contrary, it is more common than you might have thought. Recognising it in the starting stage is hard, because the symptoms are subtle and during physical activity even taken as normal. The risks resulting from overtraining are: tiredness, problems with sleep, pain in the muscles or repetitive cold and virosis. In addition you can also suffer from cardiac arrhythmia, joint pain, chronic inflammations or injury. When these problems appear it is usually a big mistake to continue with any sort of training or increasing the tempo. Passionate athlete may have a feeling that his/her performance is dropping (which in result is truth) and takes on even more burden.
WHY IS IT HAPPENING?
The muscle works in two different ways, aerobic and anaerobic way. That means the muscle uses energy for contraction which is synthesized by splitting the sugars, if oxygen is present (aerobic glycolysis) or without oxygen (anaerobic glycolysis), which results in formation of lactic acid. After exhaustion of sugar sources, the energy is acquired from proteins. Fatty acids have indispensable role in the whole process of acquiring energy. Muscle tiredness caused by long-term work of muscles and how strong the repeated contraction is. It leads to decreased supplies of glycogen (composed sugar), lowered pH of the muscles, accumulation of lactic acid and consequent change in the blood supply of the tissue. All that is a signal of the muscles, that you need to rest, so the muscle wouldn’t be damaged and exhausted.
The situation only gets worse with further burdening, glycogen is substituted with proteins and insufficient oxidation (oxygen supply) leads to formation of more lactic acid. It is toxic for our muscle fibres, and with increased physical overload it can damage the fibres which may rupture. This exactly causes uncomfortable stabbing pain. Muscles needs for regeneration 24-48 hours for removing the toxic lactic acid and prevent damage.
Read also about micro-ruptures of the muscles.
Syndrome of overtraining is not only manifesting on muscles, it also affects the psychic. If you do not heed to the warning signals you can get into condition when:
- Your sport performance significantly decreased and you lose muscle mass
- General tension of your organism is increased
- Irritation, headache, being very tired
- Feeling of heavy legs, poor sleep
- Decreased sex drive
- You observe loss of motivation to sport, and general disinterest in your hobbies
- Depression or other psychological problems may occur
Overtraining can have various forms and stages, it all depends on individuality of each of us. Determining factors are genetic endurance (physical and psychological), age, weight, gender, type of sport activity etc… In extreme cases it can result in complete breakdown of our organism, psychological and immunity collapse.
Risk is also in sudden changes of our diet. Especially if it’s some drastic change like leaving out one of the basic components of food - fats, sugar, proteins. Our organism needs for optimal functioning each of these components, therefore it is best if you can keep rich variety of food as much as possible.
Also here applies the rule that prevention is way better than treatment. Preventing the above mentioned complication is definitely possible. Therefore do not be ashamed to consult with a specialist how to safely train and perform a certain activity, to prevent injuries or overloading.
You can find useful advices also in our article about how to safely sport.
Keep in mind these advices:
- Be careful when you intensify your training, exercise reasonably, gradually, or get a professional advice.
- Sufficient muscle regeneration (sufficient resting time), you can help yourself by taking vitamin B or C, or proteins for supported regeneration.
- Continue to eat enough of all the basic food components (fats, sugars, proteins).
- Mental clarity and joy from sport is very important. Don’t sport because of obligation.
- Be happy with every little achievement. Realize that there will always be someone better than you, therefore don’t push yourself into extremes.
- Work with your stress, adrenaline and aggression. Learn how to control yourself in your daily life.
- Sport is not the only meaning of life. Treat yourself with a regular holiday, where you at least change the type of activity or you leave it out completely.
- Rest. Regeneration doesn’t have to mean you can’t move at all. Go to massage, do a simpler physical activity, support your immunity by going to sauna, or relax however you like to.
Too much of anything is bad for you. And it’s the same with your favorite activity. Therefore relax, and continue to do sport with joy, without pain and in full health.
HELP AND TREATMENT
If you are in a stage of overtraining after all, don’t worry, presently there are various options how you can help yourself as fast as possible. In any case you have to change the physical activity and reconsider your approach. Muscle and ligament damages are with the help of modern physiotherapy easily solvable. For speeding up the process of recovery you can get shock wave therapy, kinesio taping, lymphatic drainage and various manual physiotherapeutic techniques.
This syndrome however usually goes hand in hand with your psychic, therefore you need to also spend time on evaluating your approach and motives. Apart from physical health, your path to a balanced mental health might take longer. In this case, there is no shame in searching out a help of psychologist. Return to complete health can take as long as returning to normal condition from overtraining. Which can be even few years. Therefore don’t hesitate and start solving your problem immediately.
Author: FYZIOklinika physiotherapy Ltd., Prague, Czech Republic