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Over training Simplified by Sports Medicine M.D.

October 2, 2012

The more we train the better we perform’ is a very inaccurate statement that can lead in many ways to the development of the syndrome feared by athletes: Over training.

This condition can affect up to 1 our of every 5 athletes, and it tends to be more prevalent in highly motivated and goal-oriented individuals, since they tend to want to ‘perform better and more’ with as little rest as possible.

Over training Syndrome is a medical disorder made complex by the difficulty of its diagnosis. In many ways it can imitate so many clinical conditions that sometimes only an expert eye can accurately detect it. By the same token sometimes many conditions are wrongly classified as ‘just over training’.

When we ‘train’ we expose our bodies to certain stimuli that will make our bodies adapt. With the assistance of adequate recovery, if we increase the stimuli our bodies will adapt at a higher performance level.

There are multiple theories on why/how over training occurs. Dissecting the specifics of each theory go beyond the scope of this discussion. However, they all agree on the same symptoms and treatment options.


How does it present itself?

-inability to meet prior performance standards

-need of longer recovery time

-decreased coordination

-decreased strength

-increased incidence of injuries

-increased resting heart rate


-depressive symptoms

-muscle aches



-gastrointestinal disturbances ( such as nausea, irregularity in bowel movements)

How is it treated?

-First of all, your doctor must fully evaluate you to make sure it is not another condition manifesting as overtraining, labs may be required

-Second, understanding the importance of resting is essential

-Third, education on how to approach training adequately to meet our expected goals is imperative

-Fourth, compliance with your Sports Doctor’s recommendations is of utmost importance

Do not forget rest is as important as the exercise itself during our training.

This will allow you as an athlete (or potential athlete) to not only improve your performance but to avoid serious injuries.

Let’s say, for example, you are running 1 mile a day. The first few days/weeks your body will feel somewhat tired afterwards. After approximately two to three weeks, your body will not feel as fatigued. It is then when we need to increase our training  in order to ‘work out our body more’.

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