The symptoms of overtraining

You are a fitness fun and you are spending hours at the gym, sweating off the pounds and conditioning your body. Great! But how are you feeling? If you’re constantly sore, stiff, uncomfortable, and tired, you might be overtraining and injuring yourself.

Too much high-intensity exercise can harm your body, so be careful not to overtrain. Here are some warning signs that you are might be overtrained:

• Constant pain or soreness. A little bit of soreness after exercise is normal, and it means you pushed your muscles just enough. But that soreness should pass in a day or two. If your muscles are constantly sore and your joints ache with pain, you’re probably pushing yourself too hard.

• Difficulty during workouts. If you are struggling to do exercises that were once easy, it’s time to ease up on the workouts.

• Increased heart rate. Your heart rate should go up during exercise, but if your heart rate is increased even when you’re not working out, that’s a concern.

• Can’t sleep, can’t eat. Too much exercise can make you lose your appetite and also make it difficult to sleep.

• Changes in menstruation. Women who overtrain may notice that their periods become irregular or stop completely.

• Getting sick. Excessive exercise can wear down your immune system, so you may be constantly catching colds and other infections. You may also notice frequent headaches.

• Losing too much weight, lack of energy, depression, difficulty concentrating, and feelings of irritability are other warning signs of overtraining.

So how can you distinguish between problems due to overtraining and soreness from improper exercise techniques? “If you’re always sore and your muscles are never recovering and they’re very tight, your joints ache, and you can’t sleep at night,” overtraining is likely to blame. You have to make time for recovery to prevent the effects of overtraining.

If you’re experiencing the symptoms of overtraining, try the following:

• Talk to a personal trainer first to see if there’s a problem.

• Scale back your exercise routine. Vary your intensity. And make sure you’re stretching, drinking plenty of fluids, and getting proper nutrition.

• Don’t ignore pain. If you’re injured, seek medical attention and take a break.

• Take an exercise break. If you haven’t sustained an injury, but notice it’s harder for you to complete workouts, your body probably needs a break. Allow your body to rest by taking several days or maybe even a few weeks off to recover fully. You’re not going to lose your fitness by taking some time off. Your body needs it.

Marianna Szoke
Certified Personal Trainer, Nutritionist