How to avoid overtraining injuries
Overtraining is a concern for all people pursuing fitness- from recreational to elite athletes.
Overtraining injuries are musculoskeletal injuries that occur due to more activity or exercise than your body is used to, and may happen to anyone who increases intensity or changes type of activity.
Overtraining syndrome includes overtraining injuries, but also encompasses general fatigue and other symptoms.
Read on to see what you can do to avoid prevent these problems disrupting your fitness goals.
Signs and Symptoms
If you experience any of the following after working hard to meet advanced fitness goals, overtraining may be a cause.
- Physiological: increased resting heart rate, increased blood pressure
- Physical: decreased appetite, upset stomach, insatiable thirst, sleep disturbances, increased frequency of sickness and infections, general feeling of increased difficulty and fatigue throughout the day, abnormal muscle soreness, pain occurs that is different than typical muscle soreness.
- Behavioral: personality changes, decreased motivation, altered concentration, lowered self-esteem, decreased ability to cope with stress.
- Performance: Increased heart rate during activity, decreased strength or endurance, impaired movement and coordination, multiple technical errors.
Avoiding overtraining injuries
No matter the activity (running, swimming, weight lifting, etc), when working to improve your fitness you need to push yourself in order to see results. But pushing yourself too hard can result in injuries that are detrimental to your fitness goals. Here are some tips to avoid overtraining injuries:
Don't increase exercise difficulty level too quickly. Exercise needs to be progressed steadily at a gradual pace. Following a structured plan that increases your activity incrementally and safely can help you stay healthy and pain free. For example:
- For running, increasing difficulty may include increasing speed, running up or downhill, increasing duration, and use of intervals, where you alternate intensity over time.
- For resistance training, increasing difficulty may include increased weight, repetitions, sets, and decreasing the amount of time to perform the same amount of exercise.
Pay attention to your body. If it feels like you are developing signs of overtraining, then take a break, lessen your activity, or rest.
Ease into it. Particularly if you are new to fitness or altering your exercise activities, take it slow. Don't expect to make up for several months of inactivity with a few weeks of exercise. Aim for long-term consistency, not overnight success. People who try to do too much too soon often end up injured or frustrated and give up on their fitness goals altogether.
How a Physiotherapist can help with fitness goals
Physios are movement experts, and work with people of all ages and levels of activity. During a visit, our physios can:
Check your flexibility, strength, and endurance of muscles to support your desired level of activity.
Ensure that 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 a susceptible body part.
Provide appropriate training plan to minimize risk of injury and help you safely meet your fitness goals.