Tag Archives: stress

Overtraining Syndrome – Signs, Symptoms and How To Manage or Avoid It

I suffered with Chronic Fatigue for three years after getting glandular fever in my early twenties. Previous to this I was your typical Type A overachiever- studying a science degree and then Physio Masters full time, working part time, training 15+ hours a week for triathlon and socialising. On top of this I severely restricted my caloric intake in an effort to be lean and fast and through a warped body image. Burning the candle at both ends and feeling invincible as I had lived like this for years and had seemingly unlimited energy- my friends called me “Duracell”!

Then I got glandular fever and fought and fought and refused to fully rest. This reluctance to surrender to what my body was telling me lead to me having Chronic Fatigue Syndrome for years. Each time I started to get a bit better I pushed myself over the edge again. Finally I learnt to respect and listen to my body- I took a big step back from sport and focussed on wellness. Ultimately my body healed through natural therapies, a nourishing diet, rest, mindfulness and following my body’s intuition, but it took a long time and it was a long gradual build up back to training.

I am now back in competitive sport and performing better than ever. I train differently to how I used to and to others around me. I focus on quality sessions and not quantity and I take a lot more rest/recovery than my Type A mind tells me I should. I still slip up and overdo it sometimes, but now I can read my body and quickly correct my mistakes and recover.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is very similar to Overtraining Syndrome. It is a horrible hole to go down and can take years to recover. I have written this blog in an effort to help other athletes and overachievers avoid overtraining.

You can still be a great athlete and perform at your peak without jeopardizing your health.

What is Overtraining syndrome?

 Overtraining Syndrome is the result of an imbalance in exertion and recovery, generally over a sustained period of time. It is a maladaptive response to excessive exercise when not matched with appropriate recovery and results in changes to multiple body systems.

A person would be diagnosed with Overtraining Syndrome if they saw a sudden decrease in athletic performance and increase in perceived effort and this does not improve with rest.

What are the symptoms?

 Some or all of the following symptoms may be experienced. Generally the more advanced the Overtraining Syndrome is the more symptoms that will be experienced and the longer the recovery process.350064_419_Juno_LS_F17_001 BRK_F17_Sports_Bras_Spring_Juno_18462_i22778x04A_3u

  • Decreased athletic performance
  • Increased perceived effort and heart rate to previously “easy level” training
  • Ongoing fatigue that doesn’t dissipate with rest
  • Lack of motivation
  • Change in appetite
  • Depression or altered mood
  • Increased and /or unexplained Injuries
  • Increased resting heart rate
  • Decreased accuracy of fine motor skills and/or coordination
  • Hormonal changes
  • Weight changes
  • Increased illness and common colds

What causes it?

Too much stress (physical, emotional and mental) and not enough recovery is the main cause of Overtraining Syndrome.

Other causes are:

  • A rapid or sudden increase in training volume and/or intensity. Or a rapid or sudden increase in life load/stress without a reduction in training.
  • Insufficient sleep and/or recovery.
  • Diet also has a big effect. A poor diet- high in inflammatory foods and low in nutrients will increase stress to the body. Insufficient calories consumed to fuel training and life will leave the body depleted and unable to recover and adapt from training.

 How do I avoid it?

Be careful to look at whole life load rather than just your training load. All aspects of life can contribute to fatigue and stress so these must be considered when building a training program. If you have a high life load then you probably won’t be able to log as many hours of training as peers with less life stressors. This may change over time – for example if you are going through a stressful time then it would be wise to reduce your training load over this time.

  • Start any new training program gradually – ie: start with just one hard session per week and gradually increase as your body adapts.
  • Monitor your tolerance to your training and whole life load. Try to be objective and honest and don’t be influenced by what you think you should be able to do/need to do or what others are doing.
  • Monitor your response to training – if a session suddenly feels a lot harder than it should/usually does then take a few days of rest. If this feeling persists see a medical professional.
  • Take regular rest days and easy weeks. Taking every fourth week as a reduced mileage and easier effort week is common in many training programs.
  • Take at least one easy recovery day after every hard training session. Be honest with yourself about how much recovery your body needs – you may need two or three days to be ready to train hard again.
  • Take easy recovery days/weeks after racing as required. This will vary depending on the length of the race and whether it was performed at maximal effort or for training. The longer the race the more recovery will be needed. Generally three days as a minimum increasing up to several weeks for long endurance races. Again, listen to your body.
  • Consume a healthy, balanced diet that contains adequate carbohydrate, protein and fat to meet your body’s needs for training and life.
  • Reduce foods that increase inflammation and stress in your body such as processed food, refined grains and sugars, fried foods, excess caffeine/stimulants/alcohol, any foods that you have/suspect you have intolerances to.
  • Drink plenty of water and replace electrolytes as needed during hot or long/hard training sessions and races.
  • Reduce emotional stressors in your life where possible.
  • Do something for you regularly that reduces your stress (not a training session!) such as having a massage, doing a yoga class or going to see a movie with a friend._HR21267
  • Participate in regular meditation. More and more evidence is showing that meditation and mindfulness is an effective way to lower stress and increase physical and emotional health. It may also make you more in tune with your body so you are better able to recognise when you need rest or an imbalance in the body that could become an injury. There are great apps and YouTube clips for at home guided meditations.
  • Try to get at least eight hours of sleep per night.
  • Monitor your heart rate. Many athletes monitor their waking resting heart rate. If this increases above their normal they will take rest days or see a medical professional until it returns to their normal.
  • If you begin to see any signs of overtraining reduce your training, particularly the hard sessions and see a medical professional.

Images courtesy of Brooks www.brooksrunning.com.au

By Lauren Starr, Physiotherapist

blog pic vLauren Starr is a physiotherapist and also takes clinical pilates, hydrotherapy and yoga classes. Outside of work she spends her spare time running. She has competed in trail and road events but has currently shifted her focus to athletics. 

 

 

How to avoid injury when training CrossFit

5 tips to help prevent injury during exercise and in your CrossFit gym

By Hannah Briggs

 

CrossFit – simply put – is a strength and conditioning program that uses weighted and bodyweight exercises including Olympic Lifting and Gymnastics skills. It targets various aspects to deliver a fitness that is broad, general and inclusive. This way the program is designed to be scaled in any way, making it suitable for any individual regardless of fitness level or exercise experience.

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I have been a dedicated CrossFit Athlete for a couple of years now, and for the most part I have been injury free. I became a CrossFit Level 1 Trainer and Personal Trainer over a year ago, and started entering local CrossFit competitions early into my training.

A common issue or concern I hear most from people when it comes to CrossFit is “I’m not fit enough’, ‘ Isn’t CrossFit dangerous’, or ‘CrossFit is only for the elite’. These statements couldn’t be further from the truth.

Almost every other sport has the potential for injury, and CrossFit is no different. How many football players do you hear of each weekend that have done the ACL in their knee? How many Netballers roll their ankles or destroy their knees due to the high intensity of the game, and the twisting/turning required.

CrossFit, performed under the watchful eye of a qualified PT and Coach, is no more dangerous than Football and Netball.

Here are my 5 tips to help you remain injury free, but also get the most out of your CrossFit experience.

1. Leave your ego at the door and listen to your coach.

Your coach is there to help you, so ask questions when you’re unsure or feel like you need some assistance. You’re not supposed to know everything about CrossFit – that’s what your qualified trainer is for!

2. Warm up and cool down appropriately

This is fairly common sense, but you would be surprised at how many people warm up incorrectly or not at all. You should warm up for 10-15 minutes, during which time you slowly build intensity as you focus on the large muscle groups. This is designed to raise your heart rate and prepare your body for the workout.

3. Scale the WOD (Workout of the Day). Don’t be a hero.

If you feel like you’re sacrificing your form by trying to do a weight that is too heavy, just scale it back a little. You’re coach will help pick a weight that is suitable for you if you aren’t sure – it’s more important to lift correctly and safely and perform at a higher intensity, than to take 40 minutes to complete what should take 20 minutes just to say you did the weight Rx (as prescribed).

4. Rest Days

Listen to your body. Everyone needs rest days. You might be able to physically turn up every day, and get through another workout, but you won’t be able to give 100% effort. It is recommended to take a rest day every 3-4 days, and your body will thank you for it.

5. Mobility and Massage

Massage Therapy can help to alleviate pain, stiffness and improve flexibility. It can help reduce inflammation in joints and soft tissue, and also reduce stress and anxiety. When you exercise often and at high intensity, regular massage can also assist in preventing injury.

 

Hannah B headshot profile

 

Hannah is a She Science Ambassador, a Personal Trainer/CrossFit Level 1 trainer, and a CrossFit Athlete. Hannah competes at local CrossFit competitions both individually and as a team competitor, and made the finals event in her last 2 major competitions. Hannah is passionate about helping other people achieve their health/fitness goals through her PT and coaching, and motivating others to become passionate about their own fitness. Follow Hannah on instagram @_mindovermatter_13 and facebook Factory 3 Cross Fit.

 

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