Sports Law • Risk Management

September 24, 2010: Overtraining Symptoms and Prevention

Overtraining is a common problem with too many coaches and athletes failing to recognize symptoms of an overtrained athlete: fatigue, insomnia, incomplete workouts, illness, decline in performance, pain or soreness, decreased appetite and irritability. Rest from physiological and psychological demands of training is important to an athlete’s performance.

Long-term harm can result from overtraining. Many athletes fail to distinguish pain of an injury from soreness. Continuing to train with pain can lead to long-term, life-altering injuries. Thus, there are some takeaways to avoid overtraining. First, coaches and athletes need to remember that not all athletes can train the same way or at the same intensity level. Therefore a customized or flexible training program should be adapted to each athlete.

Second, develop a training regimen to allow for muscle groups to rest. For instance, this may include a weight lifting program that allows 24-48 hours of rest before returning to lift exercises involving the same muscle groups. Finally, just as you schedule workouts, also schedule both lower intensity workouts and rest from workouts. This would include taper training before competition as well as scheduling periods of inactivity. Ultimately remember that an overtrained athlete cannot compete at peak performance so recognize the symptoms and remedy the problem early.