Dangers of Overtraining

Too much of a good thing? Absolutely. Over Training can bring a havoc on your body

Your Adrenals are one of the most susceptible to stress organ in the body. When Training in extreme, the Adrenals will work beyond their capacity trying to regulate and maintain the body healthy reactions to the enormous stress has been put on it.

The most important part of working out is actually taking rest and recover.

Sleep quality is key to effective recovery.

When training in high heart rate daily, and not giving back the body rest and essential micronutrients, the road to Over Training (OT) is short.

What happens in OT? The body is depleted of stress hormones for a sustained period of time. You can get to Hypothyroidism, Adrenal insufficiency and extreme fatigue combined with low energy and muscle issues. OT has happened to enormous numbers of professional athletes in the height of their career. many of them had to quit because their body left them no other choice. Its is rarely talked in the extremely competitive and ego driven enjoinment of the competitive sport world.

How can you solve OT?

In any case, you will have to rest. it will be the only way your body will ever get the chance to heal.

insomnia. some of the early symptoms of OT

It is common to divide the Over Training Syndrome (OTS) to 3 stages:

Stage 1 of Overtraining

While its diagnosis is not always clear, identifying will give us the opportunity to prevent further complications.

Stage 1 OT is associated with the increased production of stress hormones and rise in sympathetic activity, with the onset of signs and symptoms: Fatigue, Sleep quality and quantity may be affected, insomnia and sore muscles. For athletes that monitor their HR regularly it is often noticed that there are some changes in resting HR which points at higher baseline levels of stress hormones such as cortisol for example. After an extended period of these symptoms, frequent injuries may occur and inflammation markers will tend to go up what is also known as chronic inflammation.

Recovery from Stage 1 OT could be relatively fast and easy, with complete recovery and without detraining in one to three weeks if reductions of stress are obtained. Recommendations may include:

Reduce training to minimum and completely stop high-intensity training.

Rest and sleep well each night.

Eat nutrient dense foods.

Stage 2 of Overtraining

When the symptoms are neglected in Stage 1 and training is continued in the same volume and intensity you can get to stage 2 of overtraining. Neurological, hormonal and mechanical imbalances causing more obvious signs and symptoms: Resting HR will go higher and cause more difficulties which will eventually lead to elevated training HR that will damage performances.

Muscle imbalance and weakness. Higher risk for mechanical injuries to joints, bones and soft tissues, and higher level of chronic physical soreness, fatigue and pain.

You might also notice: increased colds, flu and other infections. Gut issues, Restlessness and over-excitability, especially when trying to sleep which leads to insomnia, Increased potential for depression, anxiety and daytime sleepiness.

The most significant feature of Stage 2 OT is abnormally high cortisol, which can lead to: Low testosterone, Low thyroid hormones- hypothyroidism symptoms, reducing proper regulation of hydration and body temperature, electrolytes, excess loss of sodium, Neurological performance may become impaired and reduce coordination skills.

The best way to evaluate your situation would be to talk to your doctor. A complete evaluation is important, including history and physical examination, and appropriate laboratory testing.

Recovery from Stage 2 OT may require one to three or more months, depending on the discipline of the athlete, although some require five to six months.

You might need some external hormone replacement at least temporarily. Your doctor will decide that after evaluating your lab results and other tests.

All high-intensity training should be stopped.

Reduce training volume to minimum.

Extra emphasis should be on more rest especially obtaining 7-9 or more hours of high quality nightly uninterrupted sleep.

Avoid junk food at any cost (processed foods including sugar).

Eat sufficient amounts of nutrient dense foods to meet all nutritional needs.

Normal training and can be gradually restored once aerobic ability is restored and resting HR returns to lower levels, laboratory tests normalize, and abnormal signs and symptoms, including any physical injuries, are eliminated.

Many athletes have stayed in Stage 2 OT going back and forth in their recovery process. Without correcting the root causes of excess stress, improvement will never begin and there is the risk to develop OT to it third stage.

Stage 3 of Overtraining

This end-stage of OT is causing full exhaustion of neurological and hormonal mechanisms, typically with more severe physical, biochemical or mental-emotional symptoms. Many athletes competing poorly or had been forced by their bodies to quit early at this point.

It is a serious health condition who should be treated by health professionals. It is a state of exhaustion, in part due to the condition of the adrenal glands, which can also called adrenal fatigue. It is in part the inability of the HPA axis to compensate for the ongoing chronic excess stress. Adrenal exhaustion includes the adrenals failure to produce adequate cortisol and other vital hormones. Reduced sympathetic tone and overall autonomic function severely impairs metabolic and cardiovascular function. Eventually resting HR will go below normal, after a long period of HR fluctuations due to unstable cortisol levels.

It is very hard mentally to go out and train in this stage of OT. Depression, significant physical injury, poor immunity and gut dysfunction are commonly associated with very poor health and fitness. There is an increased risk of hyponatremia — serious life-threatening condition of low blood sodium associated with reduced aldosterone – a crucial hormone for proper water and sodium homeostasis.

Recovery from Stage 3 OT, and returning to previous ability and performance level is tricky and could take months to years. Athletes that have reached to that stage feel seriously unwell, and require the help of their doctors and health teams to individually address symptoms and tailor treatment. Of course, All moderate- to high-intensity and long workouts should be stopped, along with competition. Rest is vital, including as much uninterrupted nightly sleep as possible. Eat well especially adequate amounts of high quality fat and protein.

You should treat stage 3 of OT with a well practiced and experienced doctor who specialized in sports and treat the body holistically and not just putting you on some pills without checking your whole system and taking into account all the symptoms and how they change over time in treatment.

Back to Blog