We all have an innate desire to do or be or feel better.  In sports this looks like a constant dance of pushing and recovering so that you can improve your skill.  What happens when the recovery phase stops working?  Overtraining syndrome, burn out, overreaching, or unexplained underperformance are the names used to describe what happens.

If you are fatigued and experiencing reduced performance then you may have overtraining syndrome.  Your body becomes weaker the harder you push instead of stronger.  Normally if you push then recover in a methodical way you build your capacity at whatever skill you attempt. In overtraining syndrome you just keep feeling weaker, more fatigued, and decreased performance the more you train.

Take the test:

  1. Do you see your performance going downhill?
  2. Is your stamina decreasing instead of increasing with your training?
  3. Has it been taking you more and more time to recover from training?
  4. Has energy and performance been getting worse for more than 2 months?
  5. Are you fatigued more than you used to be?  Have you noticed your overall energy lower than before?
  6. Have you noticed or anyone else commented on you being moody lately?
  7. Do your muscles feel heavy, stiff, or sore?
  8. Has it taken you more than 14 days to recover?
  9. Do you waken unrefreshed?
  10. Are you experiencing lack of motivation and/or loss of mental clarity?
  11. Are you feeling depression, anxiety, irritability, or restlessness more in the last 2 months?
  12. Disease has been ruled out?

If you answered yes to more than 3 of these questions then you may be experiencing Overtraining Syndrome.

Overtraining becomes an issue when you are wanting to finish an event in a certain time or are an elite athlete.  If you have the luxury of stopping your activity and spending months to recover then you do not need to explore treatments.  If on the other hand your are competitive and want to achieve something great you will need to nip this in the bud right away.

Make sure to rule out disease processes.  A doctor trained in looking for this should be able to rule out the following causes of underperformance: adrenal imbalances, undiagnosed asthma/bronchial hyperreactivity, diabetes, iron deficiency with or without anemia, infection (mono, myocarditis, hepatitis, HIV, etc), malnutrition(due to improver nutrition, eating disorders, celiac dz, etc.) and thyroid imbalances.

What causes it and what can be done about it?

Many athletes will increase their training routines when they see a dip in performance.  This is where close analysis should be taken so that overtraining does not take place at this time.  This appears to be the time when OTS can happen quite easily.

There are many factors involved in causing OTS and this paper is not for exploring the causes or treatments.  This paper is to help you make an assessment of your current situation.  The theories of the causes of OTS are; Glycogen hypothesis, Central fatigue hypothesis, Glutamine hypothesis, Oxidative stress hypothesis, Hypothalamic hypothesis, and the Cytokine hypothesis.  In this paper I just want to introduce you to the titles so you are aware that it can be complex and often needs specialized guidance to get through.

The Good News
The good news is that overtraining can be reversed fairly quickly with the right guidance.  You can get back to achieving your goals and having fun doing what you love with the right direction. What can be done to treat an overtrained body or body in burn out depends on the presentation and the factors that have lead up to it in each individual.  Find someone who knows how to access and treat you from a wholistic perspective to give yourself the best chances of getting back in your game.

If you would like to understand if you have Overtraining syndrome and what your treatment options are, please call our clinic to get more information.  604.737.0012


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