This week I wanted to talk about over-training and injury. This topic is particularly important to me because, well, it’s a big part of why I went to school to be an Athletic Trainer. In High School I played a lot of sports, and as a result, sustained a lot of injuries from over-training. So today I will share common causes, injuries, and solutions to the problem.
Over-training is a complex beast. It’s determined by an imbalance of pro- and anti-inflammatory factors, and can rear its ugly head at the worst of times. When it comes down to it, over-training occurs when the body doesn’t have enough time to recover, and can manifest in the following ways:
elevated resting heart rate and blood pressure
loss of appetite and weight loss
chronic fatigue, workouts described as draining
chronic soreness/slow recovery rates
an increase in colds or infections
a decrease in performance, or an inability to reach training goals
lack of enthusiasm, psychological staleness
It’s important to note that while experiencing muscle pain is normal, not all pain is good pain. Make sure you know the difference before you run to the doctor with every little nagging problem, or conversely, avoid the doc when you do have an issue.
As a result, injuries can also pile up. I commonly see injuries of the shoulder, lower back pain, and even shin splints due to over-training just to name a few. In particular, the shoulder can be fickle. From weight lifting, to swimming, or even throwing a ball around, the shoulder is the poor joint we love to overuse. Some symptoms to look out for include an obvious deformity, it gets popped out of place, difficulty lifting the arm, clicking or popping sensation deep in the shoulder, and/or pain reaching across your body. These symptoms warrant a trip to your favorite doctor, but the good news is that many shoulder injuries DON’T require being sliced and diced to fix them.
To avoid missing long stints of exercise, you will want to treat over-training by doing… well… nothing! One of my favorite sayings is “you don’t build muscles in the gym. You build them in bed.” The key here is to make sure that you are getting enough rest and proper food to support your physical activity. You should also make sure you shake things up here and there. Doing the same thing over and over again can be stressful on the body and mind, so moderation is crucial. In fact, doing a mix of cardio, weight lifting, and HIIT (join me Monday nights at 6:15 for our HIIT Grit team training) is optimal for reaching almost any goal. On that note, it’s important to remember that you will want to increase intensity carefully. You should make small steps every day toward those goals, one pound or mile at a time. Finally, you will want to take a chill pill. Everyday stress can affect our performance in the gym, so grab a stress ball (or a beer), take deep breaths, and smile more often to feel more refreshed.