Drug Free Sport Staff Writers

Drug Free Sport Staff Writers

Friday, April 29, 2011

Overtraining Syndrome: Fact or Myth?

Overtraining syndrome is a condition in which an athlete experiences a decline in performance, even though they are training, and also shows symptoms of disturbed eating and sleep patterns and mood changes. They may also feel very fatigued. The idea is that the athlete is not letting their body rest and, in the effort to gain an edge by training constantly, they are actually harming their performance. But does overtraining really exist? Isn't more training better?

Studies have shown, and many experts agree, that overtraining syndrome exists and is an all too real problem for many athletes. More is not always better. However, there is some disagreement on the definition of the syndrome and how to determine if someone has it, but below are some generally accepted symptoms of overtraining.

Decline in performance
Tiredness, lack of energy
Aches and pains or leg soreness
Sleeping problems
Pain in muscles or joints
Increased number of colds, feeling sick more often
Inability to complete training sessions
Loss of appetite
Increased injury incidence
Reduced maximum heart rate
Elevated resting heart rate

The cause of a decline in performance is not always as easy as overtraining. There can be many other reasons. Overtraining syndrome involves much more than not playing well. If you believe you may have or may be developing the syndrome, the only remedy is rest. The longer you have been in a state of overtraining, the longer your rest period must be.

Be aware of your eating, sleeping and exercise habits. Keep a journal of your activity and watch for warning signs. Your best bet is to pay attention to your body and catch symptoms early so you can take a few extra rest days before you develop full-blown overtraining syndrome. Remember, rest and recovery are just as important for optimal performance as intense training.

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