Symptoms of overtraining are messages from your body which is telling you to calm down. Maybe some of you are thinking that overtraining syndrome ain't something to worry about but it is a serious matter which shouldn't be neglected.
When I first began to workout, I didn't gave it too much attention. However, since I loved to work out as well as thanks to my strong desire to overcome heart disease, I didn't recognized the signs that my body was sending me.
Although I started to work out to improve my health, due to lack of knowledge, not enough experience and excessive exercise, I actually got sick and negatively affected my health.
The good side of all this was that I learned a lot about overtraining syndrome, its symptoms as well as how to prevent it and treat it, in case I go overboard, again.
SYMPTOMS OF OVERTRAINING
Can't fall a sleep. Lack of sleep is connected with overtraining in more ways than one. Although you may be tired, the inability to fall a sleep can be even worse for your body. During sleep, the body produces most of its daily dose of hormones, such as sex hormones and growth hormones which are involved in recovery process. So, while overtraining can cause sleeping problems, lack of sleep can make the situation even worse.
Getting sick often. This is the most serious sign of working out too frequently. I was sick 5 times in 6 month period because I overtrained. Usually, I would get sick once or twice per year but 5 times in half a year, it was just ridiculous. However, I learned my lesson, the hard way. Now, I pay more attention to my immune system function and I make sure that my body gets enough rest, inbetween workouts.
Lack of energy. It is one the first and most obvious symptoms of overtraining. There is nothing complicated about it. If you work hard and don't rest enough, you will get tired.
Irritability. Overtraining also affects the nervous system which can lead to short temper and bursts of anger. A petty thing may provoke you which otherwise is not typical for your character.
Aches and muscle pain. Although they are expected when it comes to exercising, if you are still sore from your last workout and you going to do it all over again, then you are not resting enough. Even if you aren't feeling any aches, it doesn't mean that you are fully recovered from your previous workout.
Increased heart rate. Cardiovascular system is also affected, mostly due to unbalanced hormone levels such as high cortisol. Because of it, the heart muscle can get damaged too, if you push yourself too far. There are more and more cases of tragic deaths on the football field as well as on the track, especially by ultra marathon runners. The human body just ain't made for these kind of extreme physical activities.
Loss of appetite. It is one of those symptoms of overtraining which is usually caused by unbalanced hormone levels, especially leptin and ghrelin. However, it is not as common as others symptoms.
Depression. While some people may become irritable and angry, due to overtraining, others may get depressed and sad. How each person reacts and how it affects their attitude, depends on the individual. As well as in many other cases, hormones have a huge role in this one, too.
Diminishing performance. It is one of the most noticeable symptoms of overtraining. The goal of training, among other, is to get better with time and progressive overload. If you can't beat or match your previous workout, then it is probably because your body hasn't recovered enough from the previous workout.
SIDE EFFECTS OF OVERTRAINING
Serious injuries. Pushing yourself too hard or working out too frequently, especially if you are a beginner, usually leads to injuries. Some people may have only a minor sprain or bruise, while others can get seriously injured, after which they may never be the same.
Impaired immune system. If you are getting sick often, it is due to malfunctionating immune system. Although some people won't pay too much attention to common cold, the fact that immune system is also responsible for preventing cancer should make them think twice, when it comes to overtraining.
Adrenal exhaustion. These two small endocrine glands, located at the top of the kidneys, have big influence on energy levels. In cases of chronic stress, such as overtraining, adrenal glands can get depleted which leads to reduced production of adrenal hormones. As a consequence, your energy level go down.
Your social life may suffer. Since pushing yourself too far can affect central nervous system, symptoms of overtraining can also include depression, irritability and short temper. Your relationships with friends, family and people in general can be affected.
Sex life is also affected. Since overtraining affects the production of sex hormones, your libido and interest in sex may be diminished. While it may not be your biggest worry, your significant other probably won't be that indifferent, especially when it comes to young people.
Inability to concentrate or do your job. Besides private life, working out too much can also affect your concentration and performance at work.
The first and best treatment option when it comes to symptoms of overtraining is rest. Go for a refreshing walk, have a drink with your friends, spend some quality time with your loved ones and get plenty of sleep. Sleep is the most crucial part of recovery proces since the body produces hormones during night which help repair the damage caused by working out.
Resting period may last from few days up to weeks or months, depending on severity of overtraining.
Eating plenty of healthy, nutrient rich foods through which you get enough protein, good carbs, fats, vitamins and minerals, is essential for recovery process, besides sleep. Meditation and deep breathing may also help you relax and speed up recovery process.
HOW TO PREVENT OVERTRAINING
Sufficient amount of rest and healthy diet are important for treating and preventing symptoms of overtraining. Besides these two, you also have to listen to your body. It will tell if you are pushing yourself too hard.
If you feel the pain during training that is unusual, then scale it down or stop what you are doing, immediately. If you are preforming long, slow paced exercises such as jogging, then limit your workouts to 1 hour, max. Become in tune with your body.
MY EXPERIENCE WITH OVERTRAINING
When I first experienced slight pain, I ignored it by attributing it to normal effects of exercise. Overtime, the pain in my legs and back got worse, to the point were I just couldn't run anymore. On top of all that, I got sick. I had to stop working out for a month until the pain subsided.
What was even worse, is that I got sick 4 more times in a period of 5 months. So, don't be like me and try to grind it out, listen to your body. I won't repeat the same mistake twice, for sure.
ADAPTOGENS AND OVERTRAINING
Because of my heart disease and symptoms of overtraining, I realised how important endocrine hormones are. During my research, I stumbled upon adaptogens which were the thing I was looking for.
Adaptogens balanced my hormones, thanks to which I was able to train more often and more intense.
The biggest difference I saw, when it comes to hormones, is regarding my ACTH levels which were very high. One of the adaptogens, known as Ashwagandha, was particularly effective in normalizing my ACTH levels. However, the other adaptogens can also help since the endocrine glands produce over 70 hormones, every day, which can be affected with overtraining.
I take ORAC-Energy Greens from Paradise Herbs since it contains 15 adaptogens, along with vegetables, fruits and few other superfoods that help keep my endocrine and cardiovascular system in top condition.
However, supplements are just an addition to healthy diet, rest and working out smart, no matter how good they may be. If you want to learn more about adaptogens check the herbs section. They can be very helpful, if you are experiencing symptoms of overtraining.
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