How to Avoid Overtraining Injuries

Posted on in Industry News, News

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Has this happened to you? During training for a big race you start feeling pain in your foot. The first few times you feel it you just run it off but then during your long run the pain comes back and you just can’t shake it off. You could be suffering from an overtraining injury.

What is an overtraining injury?

Everyone, from professional athletes to casual gym-goers, can suffer an overtraining injury. What is an overtraining injury? Overtraining injuries are musculoskeletal injuries that occur due to more activity or exercise than your body is used to. They can happen when you either:

  1. Increased the intensity of your exercise routine. For example: instead of running one to two miles three times per week you are running four to five miles four times a week
  2. You changed the type of exercise you’re doing. For example: you were consistently going to a Zumba class, but one day you decided to go to Bootcamp instead.

How do I know if I have an overtraining injury?

If you experience any of the following after working hard to meet advanced fitness goals, you may have an injury:

  • Physiologically things have changed: Your resting heartrate is higher than it normally is
  • Your appetite is decreased, your stomach is upset, you’re constantly thirsty, you’re sleep patterns have changed, you get sick more often, you’re feeling over tired throughout the day, your muscles are sore, or you have pain that is different from typical muscle soreness
  • Your personality has changed, you’re not as motivated, you’re having trouble concentrating, your self-esteem is low, and you are more stressed out than usual
  • Your heart rate is increased during your usual exercise, your strength or endurance has decreased, your movement or coordination is impaired, you make a lot of errors during your typical exercise routine

If you have experienced any of these, see a doctor or a Physical Therapist to diagnose an overtraining injury or overtraining syndrome.

How do I avoid an overtraining injury?

If you’re a swimmer, runner, or body builder looking to improve you have to push yourself in order to see results. Pushing yourself too hard can result in injuries that negatively affect your fitness goals. You need to train hard, but listen to what your body is trying to tell you:

  • Don’t increase the exercise difficulty level too quickly. Pace yourself and have a plan that helps you increase your activity in a way that won’t result in an injury. For example, if you’re a runner longer distances may mean you need to run slowly until you are used to running that distance.
  • Pay attention to your body. If you are feeling any of the signs of overtraining listed above, take a break, lessen your activity, or rest.
  • Ease into it. This is especially important if you’re trying a new activity or just starting a fitness regimen. Just as Rome wasn’t built in a day, fitness goals aren’t achieved overnight.

What about overtraining syndrome?

Overtraining syndrome occurs when an active individual or athlete increases activity faster than the body can adapt or when they are unable to recover from a sustained high level of activity. Your body will let you know when you have done too much to fast through a variety of physical responses. Every person is unique, so the signs that one person may feel due to overtraining syndrome may be the same way another person feels due to a different illness. If you are concerned that you might be suffering from overtraining syndrome see your primary care physician or a physical therapist.

Try the following tips to avoid overtraining syndrome:

  • Take a break. Use your rest days. Your bones, joints, and muscles need rest days to stay healthy
  • Get your rest. Recent studies support the important role of sleep in the health of active people and athletes. Sleep is when your body with repair itself and when your immune system recovers.
  • Eat well. Proper nutrition is essential for your overall health and how your body performs. Make sure you are eating enough before and after you exercise. Eat the right foods: lean meats, fruits, and vegetables.

Seeing a physical therapist can help you avoid overtraining injuries and achieve your fitness goals. They will likely use many products we frequently talk about (foam rollers, resistance bands, dynamometers, etc.) as they:

  • Check your flexibility, strength, and endurance of muscles to support your desired level of activity
  • Ensure that yours symptoms are due to overuse or overtraining and not something more serious.
  • Identify training errors to ensure a safe fitness plan, no matter your previous level of activity
  • Correct biomechanical problems in form with your chosen activity to avoid overuse of susceptible body part
  • Help you develop an appropriate training plan to minimize the risk of injury and help you safely meet your goals

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