Peter D. Mundy
Overtraining, an imbalance between stress and adaptability of the body (Siff, 2004), is revealed by persistent muscular soreness, performance decrease, energy fall, anxiety, depression (Bloomfield, 1995) and many other physiological problems - which will be shown later in the paper. However as an athlete increases training volume, they are more likely to suffer an injury before they get classic signs of overtraining (Bailey, 1996)
Exhaustion is the systematic result of short term imbalance between stress and adaptability, whereas overtraining is the result of imbalance accumulated over a prolonged period (Siff, 2004). In 1956, a scientist by the name Hans Selye developed a theory called the general adaptation syndrome (Philbin, 2004). Selye’s theory showed that overtraining is closely related to an inadequate rate of recovery and adaptation of: the energy systems, cell repair and growth mechanisms, hormonal systems and nervous processes (Siff, 2004).
The nervous, endocrine, and immune systems are were overtraining seems to produce it's first problems (Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, vol. 26(5), 1994). Scientists have found that careful physiological surveillance might be able to prevent overtraining.
Overtraining, at early stages, may be recovered rapidly by rest. However as social, economical, mental and environmental stress builds up, alongside physical training, total stress influences the body negatively (Watkins, 1997).
Common Symptoms of Overtraining
Early fatigue during workouts
Faster heart rate with less effort
Physical challenges seem too hard
Decreased performance on strength, speed, or endurance testing
Persistent muscle soreness
Loss of appetite
Increased aches and pains
Increase in overuse injuries
Elevated diastolic blood pressure
Non physical Symptoms
Feelings of depression
Lack of motivation
Fear of competition
(The physician and sports medicine - vole 31 - no. 6 - June 2003)
At times, the symptoms associated with the overtraining syndrome can be severe (Meehan, 2000) and full recovery may take a number of weeks or months (Kuipers and Keizer, 1988). In certain cases, athletes have been unable to continue participating in their sport (Meehan et al., 2000, 2001).
Overtraining can be prevented through careful monitoring of your training sessions, periodizing and individualizing your training programs and keeping training logs (Jeukendrup, 2002).
Don’t hesitate to miss training sessions if you think you may be overtraining. However, having one bad training session doesn’t mean you are overtraining, but when you have had multiple bad training sessions it is time to rest or consult professional help.