How Can You Avoid Overtraining?

Overtraining can be something we see in athletes, or amateurs at any level. That passion and drive to be completing at your absolute best can inspire you to try to find the extra 1% through additional running, or weights, or sport specific training. But like all things in life, training is best completed in moderation, so how can you avoid overtraining?

Overtraining is a genuine risk for athletes, and we will outline some of the warning signs of completing too much physical activity.

1. Loss of strength/power

With overtraining, we limit out body’s ability to recover. We gain strength and power by exposing our muscles to micro tears, and then as these heal, they heal thicker and therefore stronger.

With the absence of adequate rest time, we continually make these microtears worse and worse, and eventually leads to a pathological tear of a muscle. This then means a period spent in rehab and ultimately a loss of time training. If you start to notice your progress in the gym, or running times regressing, you might be overtraining.

2. Weight loss unexpectedly

Much like the loss of strength, we need to give our bodies time to recover and recovery is fuelled by our nutrition. If we are increasing our training loads but not giving our body the adequate food, we will begin to use up more calories than we are ingesting.

Weight loss can occur when we have used up our fat stores and begin to use our muscle tissue as fuel. Muscle tissue is harder for our bodies to burn, and therefore requires more energy and as such speeds up the weight loss process. With less muscle comes less strength and therefore affecting performance. If you feel like you need guidance with your nutrition, speak to our dietitian today!

3. Disrupted sleep

When we overtrain, our bodies are in a heightened state for extended periods of time. Therefore, we find it difficult to slow down our central nervous system – a vital component of sleep.

If we are seriously overtraining, it is common to have interrupted sleep throughout the night. To combat your sleeping disturbances, we need to tone down the amount of training you are completing, plus things like meditation and massage can help to slow our bodies down.

4. Irritability/mood changes

There is a strong psychological component to overtraining. This is not to say that your overtraining is all a mental manifestation, but we can get so caught up in our thoughts about training, and game-day or race-day performance, that we can sacrifice our day-to-day social efforts. All of our thoughts and energies go into our chosen sport, that we react in negative ways to people or situations that we would normally cope well with.

5. Anxiety (about performance or other)

Much like the irritability, we focus so much on our performance that we can get anxious about how we are doing. We want to perform well so much that we can spiral into a state of overthinking our performance. Sometimes, this can even lead to a lack of enthusiasm or joy about our chosen activity.

6. Recurrent injuries

In a similar theme to losing strength and power, if we aren’t allowing our bodies to recover and heal well, we increase our risk to injury. At the elite level, sports scientists will track the progress of athletes and find out how often they are hitting 100% (or higher) of their speeds and volumes. We now know that prolonged exposure to very high volume training can leave athletes vulnerable to muscle, ligament or tendon injuries such as hamstring injuries

If you feel like you might be putting yourself through too much physical activity, reach out to one of our physios in Camberwell today through our Instinct Health website and find out how you can avoid overtraining and modify your weekly training sessions to ensure you can get back to your physical and mental health. While you’re at it – check out our Pilates sessions to further gain strength and reduce injury.

Counting carbohydrates with a dietitian

Exercises for Achilles Tendinopathy

How Can You Avoid Overtraining?