How to Avoid Overtraining Injuries

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Overtraining injuries can happen to anyone. Whether you’re a professional athlete or someone that is starting a new exercise program, injuries can stop you in your tracks. Move Forward has outlined the warning signs of overtraining injuries and how to avoid them.

Signs and Symptoms:

It’s important to pay attention to your body. Watch for these signs and symptoms of overtraining:

  • 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

When clients ask me about starting a new exercise program, I like to refer to the movie “What About Bob” starring Bill Murray and Richard Dreyfuss. In the movie, Richard Dreyfuss plays a famous psychologist that writes a book about BABY STEPS. I would apply the baby steps approach to any one trying to start or restart an exercise program, especially following recovery from an injury.

It is necessary to push yourself in order to get positive 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. Your body is smart. 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.

Take a break. If you have a scheduled rest day in your plan, use it, you’ve earned it!  Your bones, joints, and muscles need rest days to stay healthy.

Get rest. Recent studies are supporting the important role of sleep in the health of active people and athletes.  This is when our bodies’ build and repair and our immune system recovers.

Eat well. Proper nutrition is essential to the health of your body. Do not severely restrict calories when exercising. Make sure to eat proper nutrients, including plenty of lean meats, fruits and vegetables.

How will a physical therapist help me meet my fitness goals?

Physical therapists are movement experts, and work with people of all ages and levels of activity. During a visit, a physical therapist 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.

Source: Move Forward

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