What is Overreaching?

Overreaching is a training strategy used to build strength and/or performance.  It describes an acute training phase where you temporarily increase the training volume, load and/or intensity as part of a specific training strategy to gain a specific training outcome.  Overreaching can be an effective and important part of a training cycle when properly programed.  It typically results in additional fatigue and soreness.  Upon recovery, the desired outcome is an obvious improvement or “supercompensation” in that specific sport or activity.

When used appropriately, overreaching is an important component of high-quality training although there is the potential of developing Overtraining Syndrome (OTS).  Overreaching is an advanced training concept and should not be utilized by novice individuals regardless of the sport or activity overreaching is occurring in.

Why risk Overtraining Syndrome (OTS) to incorporate Overreaching into your training?

  • Overreaching helps your body to perform the extra steps needed to produce more results in a shorter period of time.
  • Overreaching helps you to “shock” the body in order to get results by shortening the time (days to weeks) in which you push yourself to a state of being nearly overtrained before backing off.  This is more than the typical overload you are attempting with regular training.
  • Supercompensation occurs as you push yourself right up to your limit.  This allows you to surpass prior limits for short periods of time.  It may help you advance your training to a higher level.
  • Quality intermediate to advanced training plans incorporate a stair step increase in performance with 3-4 intermittent bouts of overreaching throughout a typical periodized training year.  Make sure that your training plan is right for you.

Tips to help you safely overreach:

Do not attempt if you are a novice.  Overreaching is an advanced technique for intermediate to advanced individuals.

  • A planned and programmed overreaching session should last no longer than 1-2 weeks.
  • Increase your training and/or intensity and/or volume tactically and strategically, but not more than 40%.
  • Watch for symptoms of Overtraining Syndrome.  Symptoms may include becoming fatigued sooner during the workout or experiencing excessive fatigue or soreness.  Depending on how much longer in the phase you need to progress, you may need to discontinue your overreaching training plan and initiate your recovery protocol.
  • During the overreaching cycle, extra care and planning should be taken so you can work hard at recovery between each bout of exercise.  Specific recovery strategies are outlined in my book, Preventing and Treating Overtraining Syndrome.
  • Once your recovery time is over, continue with your training plan.  Take note of where you are and how you feel in your training.  If you are feeling good and are demonstrating improvement, adjust your training plan by appropriately tapering up the volume and/or intensity to match your added gains.  This is how supercompensation can help your training and performance reach new levels.

Overreaching can be an excellent method to speed up and more quickly advance in your training.  However, there is the risk of overdoing and developing Overtraining Syndrome (OTS).  Overreaching should be performed carefully and thoughtfully as part of a complete training plan.  Overreaching should always be followed with an equally thought out rest and recovery protocol.

Discover how to best utilize overreaching as a powerful training strategy so that you can continue to train hard and avoid the associated poor performance, illness, and injury that can result in lost training days and opportunity!

AVAILABLE NOW ON AMAZON!

In my book, Preventing and Treating Overtraining Syndrome, I show you how to recognize the risk factors and symptoms of OTS.  You’ll learn how to utilize prevention strategies to help you develop a personal training strategy that will allow you to push past your limits and prior plateau points in order to reach a state of what is known as overreaching (your body’s ability to “supercompensate”).  This will speed up your results, so that you can train harder and more effectively than ever before!  In addition, learn how to use the foam roller (complete with photos and detailed exercise descriptions) as part of a health optimization program, recovery program, rest day or treatment modality.

***Only $2.99 through Wednesday! Get it on Kindle now!***

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How to Self-Treat Overtraining Syndrome (OTS)

Overtraining Syndrome (OTS) can affect any athlete in any sport or at any level from high level CrossFit athletes to high school cross country runners as well as professional athletes, weekend warriors, and weekend race enthusiasts.  People of all ages are training harder and longer than ever before with wonderful results!

However, sometimes even the best of intentions can lead to not so desirable consequences.  OTS usually starts with muscle soreness and a feeling of fatigue.  Then it quickly progresses into a case of Overtraining Syndrome or injury.  Overtraining can occur when the intensity and/or volume of exercise becomes too much for the body to properly recover from.  For my tips and strategies to prevent OTS, please refer to How to Prevent Overtraining Syndrome (OTS).

Overtraining Syndrome will significantly impede your performance, and it frequently leads to a serious injury.  In OTS, your body isn’t able to adequately handle or adapt to the high volume and intensity of exercise that you are performing.  If you develop OTS, you will need to take specific steps to speed up your recovery in order to prevent injury and return to a normal training schedule.

Depending on the duration of symptoms and the severity of the case, OTS is a serious condition which can typically take from weeks to months to recover from.  OTS not only affects the muscular system, but also the circulatory system, the nervous system, and the hormone regulation system.  Use the following tips and strategies in your recovery.

How to Self-Treat Overtraining Syndrome (OTS):

Rest

One of the first and primary treatments for OTS is to rest.  More rest is required the longer the overtraining has occurred.  Therefore, early detection is critical.  If the overtraining has only occurred for a short period of time (such as three to four weeks), a brief three to five days of rest may be sufficient while implementing the following treatment strategies.  After the rest days, one must slowly taper back into training at a lower training volume until recovery is complete.

Cross train

Opt for an alternate form of exercise (like Tai Chi) to help prevent exercise withdrawal syndrome.  However, don’t try to substitute more workouts in one sport in order to compensate for rest in another.  This will only worsen the symptoms of OTS, which affects both the parasympathetic (PSN) and sympathetic nervous system (SNS).

Acupuncture

Incorporating acupuncture into your recovery process can be very beneficial.  Acupuncture can help to address a multitude of conditions which affect the nervous, muscular, and hormonal systems.  All three systems should be addressed during the recovery process.  Along with many of my clients, I have experienced wonderful results with acupuncture.  I highly recommend an acupuncturist who specializes in sports medicine and has experience treating athletes.  During acupuncture sessions, you can take time to specifically work on intentional relaxation and meditation which has the added benefit of addressing the nervous and hormonal systems.

Seek help early

If you are experiencing chronic aches or pain or are struggling with an aspect of your training, seek help immediately.  A healthy lifestyle is a lifelong pursuit.  If you are injured or not enjoying an activity, you will not stay engaged or motivated in the long term.  Seeking advice specifically from an experienced coach, physical therapist or physician can be beneficial.

Decrease the stimulants

It is important to take steps to help both the nervous and hormonal system re-regulate and rejuvenate.  Often with OTS, the adrenals become overtaxed and the level of cortisol (a stress hormone) is too high.  Intake of stimulants, such as caffeine, tends to worsen the condition.  Caffeine can be found in many pre-work out supplements, running gels, soda, coffee, and tea as well as some over the counter (OTC) medications.

Eat healthy

A healthy diet is critical to avoid injury.  Your body tissue needs nutrients to be able to perform at a high level.  In many cases of OTS, I encourage that you consume a higher fat diet to help your body’s hormonal system re-regulate.  Also, adequate protein intake is necessary to support muscle health and development.

Hydrate more frequently

The human body is primarily made of water, which is critical for all body functions.  In the case of OTS, I highly encourage you to hydrate more frequently during recovery.  Adequate water intake is critical to avoid dehydration which can negatively affect your training.  Dehydrated tissues are prone to injury as they struggle to gain needed nutrients to heal and repair.  Dehydrated tissues are less flexible and tend to accumulate waste products.  Stay hydrated by drinking water.

Supplement

Appropriate supplementation can be a highly effective method to get back to training more quickly by insuring your body has the nutrients it needs to properly and quickly recover.

Overtraining syndrome can be dangerous and will severely limit your ability to train.  It also significantly increases your risk of injury.  A recovery protocol should include a multifaceted approach that incorporates strategies to positively affect the muscular, nervous, and hormonal systems.

Nothing can derail your best laid training plans and goals like an injury or suffering from OTS!  If you develop OTS, you will need to take specific steps to speed up your recovery in order to prevent injury and return to a normal training schedule.

AVAILABLE NOW ON AMAZON!

In my book, Preventing and Treating Overtraining Syndrome, I show you how to recognize the risk factors and symptoms of OTS.  You’ll learn how to utilize prevention strategies to help you develop a personal training strategy that will allow you to push past your limits and prior plateau points in order to reach a state of what is known as overreaching (your body’s ability to “supercompensate”).  This will speed up your results, so that you can train harder and more effectively than ever before!  In addition, learn how to use the foam roller (complete with photos and detailed exercise descriptions) as part of a health optimization program, recovery program, rest day or treatment modality.

Discover how you can continue to train hard and avoid the associated poor performance, illness, and injury that can result in lost training days and opportunity!

BUY NOW

How to Prevent Overtraining Syndrome (OTS)

If you exercise or participate in any sport, then you have likely had some experience with Overtraining Syndrome (OTS).  It usually starts with extra muscle soreness and a feeling of fatigue.  These symptoms can quickly morph into a serious case of Overtraining Syndrome. OTS can ruin your ability to effectively train, compete or even exercise for weeks, months and in some extreme cases, even years.

Although not well understood yet, research indicates there are two forms of OTS.  One affects the sympathetic nervous system (SNS).  The other primarily affects the parasympathetic nervous (PNS).  Sympathetic OTS tends to affect sprint or power athletes.  The resting heart rate tends to be elevated in the sympathetic form.  Parasympathetic OTS tends to affect endurance athletes.  In the parasympathetic form, the heart rate is even more decreased than typically found in endurance athletes.

To effectively train at a high level one must avoid Overtraining Syndrome.  It not only impedes your immediate performance, but it also substantially increases your risk of injury.  Injury is one of the most common reason people do not meet their training and exercise goals. To train at a high level, you must put as much emphasis on your recovery protocol as your actual training plan.  Your recovery routine should be an intentional and a multifaceted approach.

How to Prevent Overtraining Syndrome (OTS):

Monitor heart rate variability

Another potential warning factor for Overtraining Syndrome is heart rate variability (HRV).  It is simply the variation in the time interval between heartbeats.  HRV is affected by stress, hormone changes, and changes in the sympathetic or parasympathetic system.  A reduced HRV is a sign of OTS.  The higher the HRV, the more capable your nervous system is able to adapt to stress.

Active recovery

Every day shouldn’t be an intense training day.  As part of your training cycles, be sure to include time to participate in other activities to help the body to recover and rejuvenate.  Participate in a yoga class, take a leisurely bike ride or take a walk in the park.

Proper periodization

You cannot and should not train at a super high intensity all year long.  Your work volume needs to be properly periodized.  Well-balanced gradual increases in training are recommended.  Be sure your training plan varies the training load in cycles with built in mandatory rest phases throughout the year.

Taper up the training volume appropriately

The 10 Percent Rule is a guideline that many fitness experts use to help athletes (of all levels) avoid injury while improving performance.  Many cases of OTS can be attributed to increasing the intensity, time or type of activity too quickly.  The 10 Percent Rule sets a weekly limit on training increases.  The guideline indicates not to increase your activity more than 10 percent per week.

Rest more

Your body must rest in order to grow and develop.  Training every day is not the best way to improve.  It can lead to injury and burn out.  Take a rest day and have fun.  Sleep more.  Proper programming includes mini cycles with an off season as well as active rest cycles in between heavy load and heavy volume training cycles.  Don’t fear rest, embrace it!

Eat healthy

Your body tissue needs nutrients to be able to perform at a high level.  Avoid processed food as much as possible.  Limit sugary food and add more protein and healthy fat in your diet.  Maintaining a diet with adequate healthy fats is essential in providing the nutrients to support all hormone function in the body as well as support the brain and nervous system.  Adequate protein intake is necessary to support muscle health and development.

Stay hydrated

The human body is primarily made of water, which is critical for all body functions.  Adequate water intake is critical to avoid dehydration which can negatively affect your training.  Dehydrated tissues are prone to injury as they struggle to gain needed nutrients to heal and repair.  Dehydrated tissues are less flexible and tend to accumulate waste products.  Stay hydrated by drinking water.  Try to avoid beverages that contain artificial sweeteners or chemicals with names you can’t spell or pronounce.

Supplement

Appropriate supplementation can be a highly effective method to help prevent OTS.  The use of proper supplementation can help your body get the nutrients it needs to support the healing and recovery process.  I take certain supplements during times of heavy training volume or when I am in a phase of overreaching.  I also take them intermittently to help prevent injury or heal from one.

If you begin to experience any symptoms of OTS, be proactive about modifying your training.  It is important to objectively measure your training routine and make adjustments before you become sick, overtrained or injured.  Nothing can derail your best laid training plans and goals like an injury or suffering from OTS!  If you develop OTS, you will need to take specific steps to speed up your recovery in order to prevent injury and return to a normal training schedule.

AVAILABLE NOW ON AMAZON!

In my book, Preventing and Treating Overtraining Syndrome, I show you how to recognize the risk factors and symptoms of OTS.  You’ll learn how to utilize prevention strategies to help you develop a personal training strategy that will allow you to push past your limits and prior plateau points in order to reach a state of what is known as overreaching (your body’s ability to “supercompensate”).  This will speed up your results, so that you can train harder and more effectively than ever before!  In addition, learn how to use the foam roller (complete with photos and detailed exercise descriptions) as part of a health optimization program, recovery program, rest day or treatment modality.

Discover how you can continue to train hard and avoid the associated poor performance, illness, and injury that can result in lost training days and opportunity!

BUY NOW

My Top 3 Most Popular Posts of 2017!

As 2017 comes to a close, I become increasingly more excited for the years to come!  As science evolves and its understanding of how the human body functions, we’re seeing more technology that can help to enhance our lives and optimize function.  More people are realizing the value of taking control of their health care and personal well-being.  In today’s health care environment, we all need to learn how to treat common aches and pains proactively instead of reactively.  We must get to the root of the issue instead of placing a Band-Aid over it.  Our present health care system in America is not designed to help you optimize your health–that is your job!  

The purpose of The Physical Therapy Advisor is to help people like you to take control of your health and to save money by learning how to safely self-treat and manage common musculoskeletal, neurological, and mobility related conditions safely and effectively.

Image courtesy of Unsplash.

My Top 3 Most Popular Posts of 2017:

  1. Why You Won’t Heal – Poor Nutrition (Part 4) – You will discover why consuming the proper nutrients is critical in order to fully heal and recover from an injury or illness in part 4 of my very popular 6-part series, Why You Won’t Heal.  The feedback was so positive that I written an even more thorough book on the topic!  Keep an eye out for Why You Won’t Heal (and What YOU Can Do About It) to be published in spring of 2018.
  1. How to Become a Resilient Runner – You will learn how to become a resilient runner so you can avoid injury, train more, recover quicker, and save money.  The Resilient Runner program, which includes prevention and self-treatment for running injuries, is a collaboration with Angie Spencer (RN and Certified Running Coach) and Trevor Spencer (co-host of the Marathon Training Academy Podcast).  The program is a virtual library of self-treatment protocols including downloadable podcasts, videos, and .pdf files of rehabilitation guides.  It also includes a 320 page eBook, The Resilient Runner, Prevention and Self-Treatment Guide to Common Running Related Injuries.  This is a must have program in order to learn how to prevent and/or self-treat lower extremity pains and injuries.
  1. Why Does My Shoulder Hurt? – I discuss the most common reasons why you may develop shoulder pain.  You will discover the key to treating most common shoulder related pain.  In addition, learn how to improve your posture while focusing on thoracic mobility and proper shoulder strengthening.  I offer simple stretches and exercises that you can use to eliminate the pain.

2017 has been an exciting year!  I have successfully published three books (which are now available on Amazon in Kindle and paperback formats) with wonderful feedback!  I am so grateful that more people are beginning to understand that many of the most common aches, pains, and musculoskeletal injuries can be safely managed and self-treated with proper guidance.

In Treating Ankle Sprains and Strains, I show you how to effectively self-treat and manage an ankle sprain and/or strain in order to resume your training and normal activities while minimizing the risk of additional damage, injury or re-injury.  When you can confidently self-treat, you can limit pain levels, return to activity faster, prevent reoccurrences, and save money!  A proper rehabilitation from the initial injury to the full return to sport and/or activity must include a full return to strength, mobility, and balance.

In Treating Low Back Pain during Exercise and Athletics, I share very specific strategies for general LBP prevention among athletes such as sport enthusiasts, CrossFitters, weightlifters, and runners.  These principles are helpful for anyone participating in athletics as well as those implementing a healthy lifestyle.  You’ll learn how to address specific causes of LBP as well as the best practices on how to prevent and self-treat when you experience an episode of LBP. 

In Preventing and Treating Overtraining Syndrome, I show you how to recognize the risk factors and symptoms of Overtraining Syndrome (OTS).  You’ll learn how to utilize prevention strategies to help you develop a personal training strategy that will allow you to push past your limits and prior plateau points in order to reach a state of what is known as overreaching (your body’s ability to “supercompensate”).  This will speed up your results, so that you can train harder and more effectively than ever before!

Be sure to stay tuned for upcoming books including Why You Won’t Heal (and What YOU Can Do About It) and Running an Injury-Free Marathon (Complete with Training and Rehabilitation Strategies)!

Thank you for supporting The Physical Therapy Advisor!  I look forward to serving you in 2018!  If you have a question that you would like featured in an upcoming blog post, please comment below or submit your question to contact@thePhysicalTherapyAdvisor.com.  Be sure to subscribe to my e-mail list and join our community on Facebook by liking The Physical Therapy Advisor!

How to Avoid Overtraining Syndrome (OTS)

http://marathontrainingacademy.com/overtraining-syndrome

Marathon Training Academy

April 28, 2017

Don’t let an injury or Overtraining Syndrome (OTS) derail your running plans or affect your performance.  In this guest post for Marathon Training Academy, you will learn which strategies to implement as you self-treat and manage any potential injury safely and quickly.

Nothing can derail your best laid training plans and goals like an injury or suffering from Overtraining Syndrome (OTS).  OTS usually starts with muscle soreness and a feeling of fatigue.  Then it quickly progresses into a case of overtraining syndrome or injury.  Overtraining can occur when the intensity and/or volume of exercise becomes too much for the body to properly recover from.  Many common running injuries are directly associated with OTS.  It’s always best to prevent OTS rather than attempt to recover from it.  Continue Reading

How to Leverage your Nutrition to Train Harder and Recover Faster

As a physical therapist, I help to educate my clients about a wide variety of strategies from nutrition to physical components including advice on exercise, hands-on techniques (such as myofascial and joint mobilizations), and self-care techniques.  Time and time again in my practice, a client will struggle with healing from an injury.  He/she may be performing the right exercise and receiving the proper treatment, yet he/she is unable to properly heal because his/her body doesn’t have the proper nutrition level to allow the healing to occur.  Poor eating habits not only sabotage your results, but can also lead to severe chronic illnesses (such as heart disease and diabetes).

Preparing To Lift Heavy Weight Bar

Your body’s ability to train harder and recover faster is not just about the exercises performed.  It should also be centered on the fuel you put in your body.  Your body cannot perform optimally, recover adequately or heal from injury properly without adequate nutrition.

Focus on your Recovery Nutrition

The majority of your diet should be from real food.  My personal belief is that food which is minimally processed, organic and/or home grown is likely to have a higher nutrient load and will therefore be healthier for you.  Your body simply cannot heal and recover quickly or adequately when substandard fuel “food” is consumed.

Initially, focus on macronutrients (fat, protein, carbohydrate) when it comes to food.  For me, this includes a diet high in protein from many sources (plant and animal-based), high in fruits and vegetables, and low in processed carbohydrates.

Runners and endurance athletes should pay particular attention to protein intake as maintaining muscle mass is critical for performance and injury prevention.  For more information on protein supplementation, please refer to How Much Protein Do I Really Need?

Consider Supplementation

I am a believer in supplements although you must choose wisely.  Your dietary belief system, genetics, and the type of exercise and/or activity you mainly participate in will determine which supplements may work best for you.

When choosing supplements, I tend to gravitate toward supplements that can enhance performance, improve recovery, stabilize blood sugar, and reduce systemic inflammation.  The ultimate goal with supplements is to aid your body in improving health and/or performance.  Try to choose the most natural products as possible and experiment to see what works best for you.  Look for supplements that don’t contain extra fillers, sweeteners or additives.  For more information on supplementation, please refer to My Top 10 Supplement Recommendations.

Add Super Greens to your Diet

Most people do not consume enough greens.  Green super foods, such as spirulina algae, chlorella algae, and wheat grass are packed high in antioxidants.  They can have a cleansing and an alkalizing effect which will decrease your inflammation level and aid in recovery.  Super greens boost your immune system and are generally good for you.  I think the argument can be made that algae is the king of “super” foods.  It is likely the most important food/supplement most people are not taking.

I have been experimenting taking algae for the last four months, and it has allowed me to train harder and recover faster.  I am setting new milestones in my ability to perform many of my more difficult CrossFit exercises (such as ring muscle ups).  I have seen more improvements in strength, cardiovascular performance, and recovery then at any other time in my life.

My new favorite way to add greens and protein are supplements called ENERGYbits® and RECOVERYbits®.  They are made from organically grown NON GMO spirulina algae or chlorella algae.  Spirulina algae have a high concentration of plant-based protein (64%).  It also contains 40 vitamins and minerals including iron, nitric oxide, Omega-3, and all of the B vitamins.

ENERGYbits_ProductPhoto

Because of their overall nutritional profile I now consider spirulina and chlorella algae a top performance and recovery supplement.  I take 30-45 of these small tablets per serving.  I have had great success taking them prior to a work out and directly afterward.  I also take them mid-day as a snack or meal replacement.

A general rule is to consume spirulina prior to exercise (which are the ENERGYbits®) and chlorella (which are the RECOVERYbits®) after exercise.  Chlorella is high in protein.  It also has detoxing properties and an impressive micronutrient profile.

Also, be sure to listen to Ben Greenfield’s interview with the founder of ENERGYbits®, Catharine Arnston, on the benefits and importance of algae.  Please refer to Is This The Most Dense Source Of Nutrition On The Face Of The Planet?

In full disclosure, I am now an affiliate for ENERGYbits®.  I signed up primarily to get the same 20% discount I can offer you.  You can only purchase them online, so when you check out, just enter discount code PTAdvisor for 20% off all products.

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Avoid Injury and Overtraining Syndrome (OTS)

Nutrition is an important component for both performance and recovery.  Proper recovery is critical to avoiding injury and Overtraining Syndrome (OTS).  Every recovery protocol should include a multifaceted approach that incorporates strategies to positively affect the muscular, nervous, and hormonal systems.  This includes proper nutrition, getting adequate sleep, cross training, and implementing self-care modalities (such as compression band use and foam roller use).

OTS usually starts with muscle soreness and a feeling of fatigue.  Then it quickly progresses into a case of overtraining syndrome or injury.  Overtraining can occur when the intensity and/or volume of exercise becomes too much for the body to properly recover from.  It’s always best to prevent OTS rather than attempt to recover from it.

Nothing can derail your best laid training plans and goals like an injury or suffering from OTS!  If you develop OTS, you will need to take specific steps to speed up your recovery in order to prevent injury and return to a normal training schedule.

AVAILABLE NOW ON AMAZON!

In my book, Preventing and Treating Overtraining Syndrome, I show you how to recognize the risk factors and symptoms of OTS.  You’ll learn how to utilize prevention strategies to help you develop a personal training strategy that will allow you to push past your limits and prior plateau points in order to reach a state of what is known as overreaching (your body’s ability to “supercompensate”).  This will speed up your results, so that you can train harder and more effectively than ever before!  In addition, learn how to use the foam roller (complete with photos and detailed exercise descriptions) as part of a health optimization program, recovery program, rest day or treatment modality.

Discover how you can continue to train hard and avoid the associated poor performance, illness, and injury that can result in lost training days and opportunity!

BUY NOW

How to Safely Overreach to Advance Your Training

Overreaching is a term used to describe an acute training phase during which you temporarily increase the training volume, load, and/or intensity as part a specific training strategy to gain a specific training outcome.  When properly programmed, overreaching can be an effective and important part of a training cycle.  Unlike Overtraining Syndrome (OTS), overreaching is an actual training strategy to build strength and/or performance.  Although it typically results in additional fatigue and soreness, you can easily recover with a few days of rest and a specific recovery plan.  After resting, the desired outcome is an obvious improvement or supercompensation in that specific sport or activity.

Overreaching is an important component of high-quality training.  When utilizing overreaching, please be aware of the potential to develop Overtraining Syndrome (OTS).  Please refer to 12 Tips to Prevent Overtraining Syndrome for the warning signs.  Overreaching is an advanced training concept and shouldn’t be utilized by novice individuals regardless of the sport or activity.

Why risk Overtraining Syndrome to incorporate overreaching into your training?

  • Overreaching helps your body to perform the extra steps needed to produce more results in a shorter period of time.
  • Overreaching helps you “shock” the body in order to improve. During a short period of time (days to weeks), you push yourself to a state of being nearly overtrained prior to backing off. This is more than the typical overload you are attempting with regular training.
  • Supercompensation occurs as you push yourself to the limit. Then you pull back from the brink of being overtrained as you transition into a rest and recovery phase, which is outlined in 12 Tips to Prevent Overtraining Syndrome and 10 Tips to Self-Treat Overtraining Syndrome.
  • Quality intermediate to advanced training plans incorporate a stair step increase in performance with 3-4 intermittent bouts of overreaching throughout a typical periodized training year. Make sure that your training plan is right for you.

IMG_1106_Small

6 tips on how to safely overreach to advance your training:

  1. A planned and programmed overreaching session should last no longer than 1-2 weeks.
  2. Increase your training, intensity, and/or volume no more than 40%. For example, if you typically run 50 miles a week, then plan on a week or two of 70 miles before your scheduled rest and recovery days. You may also choose to combine two harder variables in one training session. Combine a long run with challenging hills, a tempo session with speed work, or take a long run after performing a high intensity interval training session (HIIT).
  3. Watch for the following warning signs of overtraining syndrome: feeling fatigued sooner during the workout; excessive fatigue or soreness; changes in appetite (larger or smaller); and a longer post workout recovery time. If you’re experiencing these symptoms, then you are into overreaching and on the verge of overtraining. Depending on how much longer in the phase you need to progress, you may need to discontinue your overreaching training plan and initiate your recovery protocol.
  4. During the overreaching cycle, be sure to properly recover between each bout of exercise. Implement specific recovery strategies including: extra sleep; adequate nutrition and hydration; proper supplementation; and foam rolling.
  5. Plan a 5-7 day recovery protocol. Several methods to help you to recover are outlined in outlined in 12 Tips to Prevent Overtraining Syndrome and 10 Tips to Self-Treat Overtraining Syndrome. Find more recovery tips in Muscle Cramping & Spasms – Treatment Options.
  6. Once you complete your recovery time, continue with your training plan. Take note of where you are and how you feel in your training. If you are feeling well and are demonstrating improvement, be sure to adjust your training plan by appropriately tapering up the volume and/or intensity to match your added gain. For example, if you were squatting 200 lbs. as a part of your work sets, you may increase the weight by 5-10% for a total of 210 or 220 lbs. This would also be the case for any other exercise or running distance and/or pace.

Overreaching can be an excellent method to speed up and quickly advance in your training.  Overreaching increases your risk of developing Overtraining Syndrome (OTS).  It should be performed carefully and thoughtfully as part of a complete training plan.  Overreaching should always be followed with an equally thought out rest and recovery protocol.  During your overreaching cycle, document your training and recovery strategies so that you can refine your process.  It will make your next attempt at overreaching even more effective and safe in the future.

Discover how you can continue to train hard and avoid the associated poor performance, illness, and injury that can result in lost training days and opportunity!

AVAILABLE NOW ON AMAZON!

In my book, Preventing and Treating Overtraining Syndrome, I show you how to recognize the risk factors and symptoms of OTS.  You’ll learn how to utilize prevention strategies to help you develop a personal training strategy that will allow you to push past your limits and prior plateau points in order to reach a state of what is known as overreaching (your body’s ability to “supercompensate”).  This will speed up your results, so that you can train harder and more effectively than ever before!  In addition, learn how to use the foam roller (complete with photos and detailed exercise descriptions) as part of a health optimization program, recovery program, rest day or treatment modality.

BUY NOW

10 Tips to Self-Treat Overtraining Syndrome

Overtraining Syndrome (OTS) can affect any athlete in any sport or at any level. I have treated high school athletes to weekend warriors for OTS. Recently I have noticed more cases of OTS among CrossFit enthusiasts and runners of all distances. People are training harder and longer than ever before with wonderful results. At times, even the best of intentions can lead to not so desirable consequences. OTS usually starts with muscle soreness and a feeling of fatigue. Then it quickly progresses into a case of overtraining syndrome or injury. Overtraining can occur when the intensity and/or volume of exercise becomes too much for the body to properly recover from. For my tips and strategies to prevent OTS, please refer to 12 Tips to Prevent Overtraining Syndrome. In this follow up post, I will specifically address how to self-treat OTS.

Overtraining Syndrome will significantly impede your performance and frequently leads to a serious injury.  In OTS, your body isn’t able to adequately handle or adapt to the high volume and intensity of exercise that you are performing. If you develop OTS, you will need to take specific steps to speed up your recovery in order to prevent injury.  Depending on the duration of symptoms and the severity of the case, OTS is a serious condition which can take a long time to recover from.  OTS not only affects the muscular system, but also the circulatory system, the nervous system, and the hormone regulation system.  Recognizing the warning signs early and being proactive in prevention will help you to avoid OTS.  If you’re already suffering, use the following tips and strategies in your recovery.

ActiveRest

10 Tips to Self-Treat Overtraining Syndrome:

  1. Rest. One of the first and primary treatments for OTS is to rest. More rest is required the longer the overtraining has occurred. Therefore, early detection is critical. If the overtraining has only occurred for a short period of time (such as three to four weeks), then a brief three to five days of rest may be sufficient while implementing the following treatment strategies. After the rest days, slowly taper back into training at a lower training volume until recovery is complete. Typically, the intensity of training can be maintained as long as the volume is decreased. I also advise that you start an alternate day recovery cycle. Train for one day, and then take a day off. This will typically last for a few more weeks before resuming your normal training cycle. As you resume full training, it is important that the warning signs of overtraining are identified and corrected. In more severe cases, the training program may have to be interrupted for weeks or months for a full recovery.
  2. Cross train. Opt for an alternate form of exercise to help prevent exercise withdrawal syndrome. If you are heavily participating in CrossFit or running, choose leisurely cycling and yoga as part of your cross training routine. The key is to keep both training volume and intensity low while preserving a baseline of fitness. Most of the medical studies on overtraining are geared toward single sport athletes. For triathletes and other multi-sport athletes, the recovery process may be different depending on the circumstances. If you can identify that the overtraining has occurred in only one discipline, then resting from that discipline (as well as significantly decreasing training in the other sports) may result in a full recovery. Don’t try to substitute more workouts in one sport in order to compensate for rest in another. This will only worsen the symptoms of OTS, which affects both the parasympathetic (PSN) and sympathetic nervous system (SNS). Resting from overtraining on the bicycle by swimming more will help to rest fatigued quadriceps. However, stress is stress to the cardiovascular, nervous, and hormone systems. Cross training is an important component in your recovery. Incorporate it in your typical training cycles as a method to limit your risk of injury. Cross training can make training more enjoyable as it keeps your body stimulated and ready for improvement. As you recover from OTS, the volume and intensity must be significantly reduced to allow for adequate rest and recovery.
  3. Spot train your weak areas. In addition to cross training, use this recovery time to spot train your weak areas. Work on your mobility and balance as a prevention technique for areas that are prone to injury. If you have a history of low back pain or a prior knee injury, utilize this time to single out all those weak areas in an effort to prevent injury in the future. As you rest from your primary training routine while incorporating cross training, perform spot training as well. The Resource Guide includes a specific exercise section with rehabilitation exercises ranging from low back pain to knee pain. These .pdf files include photos and detailed descriptions to help you get started on spot training your weak areas. This is also an excellent time to work on the specific technical skills that your sport requires. It may include learning how to mentally manage your sport better.
  4. Actively manage your aches and pains. Consider seeing a masseuse for regular body work. Another option is to use the foam roller after exercise to speed up recovery times and decrease the risk of muscle soreness or restriction. To learn how to use a foam roller for self-treatment, please refer to Foam Rolling for Rehabilitation.
  5. Acupuncture. Incorporating acupuncture into your recovery process can be very beneficial. Acupuncture can help to address a multitude of conditions which affect the nervous, muscular, and hormonal systems. All three systems should be addressed during the recovery process. Along with many of my clients, I have experienced wonderful results with acupuncture. I highly recommend an acupuncturist who specializes in sports medicine and has experience treating athletes. During acupuncture sessions, you can take time to specifically work on intentional relaxation and meditation which has the added benefit of addressing the nervous and hormonal systems.
  6. Seek help early. If you are experiencing chronic aches or pain or are struggling with an aspect of your training, seek help immediately. A healthy lifestyle is a lifelong pursuit. If you are injured or not enjoying an activity, you will not stay engaged or motivated in the long term. Seeking advice specifically from an experienced coach, physical therapist, or physician can be beneficial.
  7. Decrease the stimulants. It is important to take steps to help both the nervous and hormonal system re-regulate and rejuvenate. Often with OTS, the adrenals become overtaxed and the level of cortisol (a stress hormone) is too high. Intake of stimulants, such as caffeine, tends to worsen the condition. Remember, caffeine can be found in many pre-work out supplements, running gels, soda, coffee, and tea as well as some over the counter (OTC) medications. During your recovery phase, limiting chemicals that promote stimulation to the nervous and hormonal systems (particularly in regard to cortisol and adrenal function) will speed up your recovery. Once you have recovered and are tapering back into full training, I caution you in limiting stimulants as a prevention strategy for future episodes of OTS.
  8. Eat healthy. A healthy diet is critical to avoid injury. Your body tissue needs nutrients to be able to perform at a high level. Avoid processed food as much as possible. Limit sugary food and add more protein and healthy fat in your diet. Maintaining a diet with adequate healthy fats is essential in providing the nutrients to support all hormone function in the body as well as support the brain and nervous system. In the case of OTS, I encourage that you consume a higher fat diet to help your body’s hormonal system re-regulate. Also, adequate protein intake is necessary to support muscle health and development. For more information on protein intake, please refer to How Much Protein Do I Really Need?
  9. Hydrate more frequently. The human body is primarily made of water, which is critical for all body functions. In the case of OTS, I highly encourage you to hydrate more frequently during recovery. Adequate water intake is critical to avoid dehydration which can negatively affect your training. Dehydrated tissues are prone to injury as they struggle to gain needed nutrients to heal and repair. Dehydrated tissues are less flexible and tend to accumulate waste products. Stay hydrated by drinking water. Try to avoid beverages that contain artificial sweeteners or chemicals with names you can’t spell or pronounce. Coconut water is a popular drink that offers vital nutrients. Also, consider a juicing cleanse with a heavy focus on the kidneys and liver to help detoxify the body.
  10. Supplement. My most recommended supplement to help recover from injury is CapraFlex by Mt. Capra. Essentially, it combines an organic glucosamine and chondroitin supplement with other natural herbs which are designed to reduce inflammation. CapraFlex can be taken long term or intermittently. In the case of OTS, I also recommend a colostrum supplement called CapraColostrum by Mt. Capra. Colostrum is the first milk produced by female mammals after giving birth. It contains a host of immunoglobulins, anti-microbial peptides, and other growth factors. It is especially good at strengthening the intestinal lining which prevents and heals conditions associated with a leaky gut. Colostrum can also help a person more effectively exercise in hotter conditions. Over all, it can boost the immune system, assist with intestinal issues, and help the body to recover faster. Like CapraFlex, Tissue Rejuvenator by Hammer Nutrition contains glucosamine and chondroitin as well as a host of herbs, spices, and enzymes to help support tissues and limit inflammation. I recommend taking either CapraFlex OR Tissue Rejuvenator. You can take CapraColostrum independently or in conjunction with either CapraFlex or Tissue Rejuvenator. I recommend taking these supplements as a recovery strategy. I recommend initially trying a 30 day protocol. If the supplements are aiding your recovery, you may choose to continue taking them for an additional 30 days. I implement this protocol as part of a prevention strategy during times of heavy volume or high intensity training. (Please consult with your pharmacist and/or physician prior to starting any new supplementation protocol. Herbs could interact with some medications particularly if you are taking blood thinners.)

Overtraining Syndrome can be dangerous and severely limit your ability to train.  It also significantly increases your risk of injury.  A recovery protocol should include a multifaceted approach that incorporates strategies to positively affect the muscular, nervous, and hormonal systems.

Nothing can derail your best laid training plans and goals like an injury or suffering from OTS!  If you develop OTS, you will need to take specific steps to speed up your recovery in order to prevent injury and return to a normal training schedule.

AVAILABLE NOW ON AMAZON!

In my book, Preventing and Treating Overtraining Syndrome, I show you how to recognize the risk factors and symptoms of OTS.  You’ll learn how to utilize prevention strategies to help you develop a personal training strategy that will allow you to push past your limits and prior plateau points in order to reach a state of what is known as overreaching (your body’s ability to “supercompensate”).  This will speed up your results, so that you can train harder and more effectively than ever before!  In addition, learn how to use the foam roller (complete with photos and detailed exercise descriptions) as part of a health optimization program, recovery program, rest day or treatment modality.

Discover how you can continue to train hard and avoid the associated poor performance, illness, and injury that can result in lost training days and opportunity!

BUY NOW

12 Tips to Prevent Overtraining Syndrome

If you exercise or participate in any sport, then you have likely had some experience with Overtraining Syndrome (OTS). It usually starts with extra muscle soreness and a feeling of fatigue. These symptoms can quickly morph into a serious case of overtraining syndrome. Overtraining can occur when the intensity and/or volume of exercise becomes too much for the body to properly recover from.

Although not well understood yet, research indicates two forms of OTS. One affects the sympathetic nervous system (SNS). The other primarily affects the parasympathetic nervous (PNS). Sympathetic OTS tends to affect sprint or power athletes. The resting heart rate tends to be elevated in the sympathetic form. Parasympathetic OTS tends to affect endurance athletes. In the parasympathetic form, the heart rate is even more decreased than typically found in endurance athletes.

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There is no specific test for OTS. The diagnosis is usually determined when a number of factors or symptoms begin to manifest. Warning signs, ranging from mild to severe, include:

  • Fatigue (mild to severe)
  • Muscle and body achiness and soreness
  • A sudden drop in performance
  • A drop in strength
  • A drop in cardiovascular endurance
  • Insomnia or excessive sleepiness
  • Headache
  • Illness due to a drop in your immune function
  • Irritability and moodiness
  • Decreased appetite or weight loss
  • An increase in your resting heart rate
  • A decrease in your heart rate variability
  • A substantial drop in training capacity and/or intensity
  • Depression and a loss of enthusiasm for activities (such as training)

Avoid Overtraining Syndrome if you want to effectively train at a high level.  It not only impedes your immediate performance, but it also substantially increases your risk of injury.  Remember, recovery from a workout is a critical part in avoiding OTS.  Your recovery routine should be an intentional and a multifaceted approach.

12 Tips to Prevent Overtraining Syndrome:

  1. Keep a training diary. An exercise or training diary allows you to keep track of how you feel before, during, and after workouts. How did your body respond to training that day? How did you sleep? How was your food intake and nutrition? Also, record your heart rate response during your exercise session. Document as many variables as you can in order to look for patterns. Discover which combinations work well for you and those that have a negative effect on training. Focus on the positive and eliminate variables which cause negative effects. The diary helps you to keep track of it all. There are software programs available to assist in this as well. One such program popular with cyclists and triathletes is Training Peaks.
  2. Monitor heart rate variability. Another potential warning factor for overtraining syndrome is heart rate variability (HRV). It is simply the variation in the time interval between heartbeats. HRV is affected by stress, hormone changes, and changes in the sympathetic or parasympathetic system. A decrease in parasympathetic activity or increased sympathetic activity will result in reduced HRV. A reduced HRV is a sign of OTS. The higher the HRV, the more capable your nervous system is able to adapt to stress. Many different apps can quickly measure HRV. Some apps are more accurate than others. The more accurate and precise the measurement, the more expensive the app. One free app that I use and recommend is Azumio’s Instant Heart Rate.
  3. Monitor for OTS warning signs. Watch for the warning signs (listed above) and decrease your training volume if you are experiencing symptoms. Listen to your body.
  4. Cool down. After performing your exercises, take the extra time to cool down and stretch. Choose exercises and activities that provide range of motion (ROM) to the particular area that you just trained or used. The perfect time to perform static stretching is after exercising. Work on tight and restricted areas. Keep moving throughout the day and avoid sitting for extended periods of time.
  5. Foam rolling. The foam roller is a wonderful tool which allows you to manipulate the body’s soft tissues. This has a potential positive effect on the fascial system, the musculotendinous system, and the circulatory system. It can aid in recovery by improving blood flow and reducing myofascial restrictions. To learn how to use a foam roller for self-treatment, please refer to Foam Rolling for Rehabilitation.
  6. Active recovery. Every day shouldn’t be an intense training day. As part of your training cycles, be sure to include time to participate in other activities to help the body to recover and rejuvenate. Participate in a yoga class, take a leisurely bike ride, or take a walk in the park.
  7. Proper periodization. You cannot and should not train at a super high intensity all year long. Your work volume needs to be properly periodized. Well-balanced gradual increases in training are recommended. Be sure your training plan varies the training load in cycles with built in mandatory rest phases throughout the year. The plan will likely be based on when you need to peak for certain events or races. During the high workload phase, try to alternate between high intensity interval work and low intensity endurance work.
  8. Taper up the training volume appropriately. The 10 Percent Rule is a guideline that many fitness experts use to help athletes (of all levels) avoid injury while improving performance. Many cases of OTS can be attributed to increasing the intensity, time or type of activity too quickly. The 10 Percent Rule sets a weekly limit on training increases. The guideline indicates not to increase your activity more than 10 percent per week. That includes distance, intensity, amount of weight lifted, and/or time of exercise. For example, if you are running 30 miles per week and want to increase the distance, add 3 miles during the next week for a total of 33 miles a week. If you are squatting 200 pounds and want to increase, don’t add more than 20 pounds during the next week. The 10 Percent Rule is only a guideline. In some cases, 10 percent may be too much. Instead, a 5 percent increase per week may be much more realistic.
  9. Rest more. Your body must rest in order to grow and develop. Training every day is not the best way to improve. It can lead to injury and burn out. Take a rest day and have fun. Sleep more. Proper programming includes mini cycles with an off season as well as active rest cycles in between heavy load and heavy volume training cycles. Don’t fear rest, embrace it!
  10. Eat healthy. Your body tissue needs nutrients to be able to perform at a high level. Avoid processed food as much as possible. Limit sugary food and add more protein and healthy fat in your diet. Maintaining a diet with adequate healthy fats is essential in providing the nutrients to support all hormone function in the body as well as support the brain and nervous system. Adequate protein intake is necessary to support muscle health and development. For more information on protein intake, please refer to How Much Protein Do I Really Need?
  11. Stay hydrated. The human body is primarily made of water, which is critical for all body functions. Adequate water intake is critical to avoid dehydration which can negatively affect your training. Dehydrated tissues are prone to injury as they struggle to gain needed nutrients to heal and repair. Dehydrated tissues are less flexible and tend to accumulate waste products. Stay hydrated by drinking water. Try to avoid beverages that contain artificial sweeteners or chemicals with names you can’t spell or pronounce.
  12. Supplement. I take certain supplements during times of heavy training volume or when I am in a phase of overreaching. I also take them intermittently to help prevent injury or heal from one. My most recommended supplement is CapraFlex by Mt. Capra. Essentially, it combines an organic glucosamine and chondroitin supplement with other natural herbs which are designed to reduce inflammation. CapraFlex can be taken long term or intermittently to help heal from an injury. I also recommend a colostrum supplement called CapraColostrum by Mt. Capra. Colostrum is the first milk produced by female mammals after giving birth. It contains a host of immunoglobulins, anti-microbial peptides, and other growth factors. It is especially good at strengthening the intestinal lining which prevents and heals conditions associated with a leaky gut. Colostrum can also help a person more effectively exercise in hotter conditions. Over all, it can boost the immune system, assist with intestinal issues, and help the body to recover faster. Both of these supplements can be used in heavy volume or intense training phases to help you to recover faster and avoid OTS.  (If you are taking blood thinners, please consult with your physician prior to use as the herbs could interact with some medications.)

If you begin to experience any of the warning signs of OTS, be proactive about modifying your training.  It is important to objectively measure your training routine and make adjustments before you become sick, overtrained or injured.  Incorporate these recommended prevention strategies to help keep your training at a high level. In the follow up post, 10 Tips to Self-Treat Overtraining Syndrome, I specifically address self-treatment strategies.

If you are experiencing chronic aches or pain or are struggling with an aspect of your training, seek help immediately.  Seeking advice specifically from an experienced coach, physical therapist, or physician can be beneficial.

Nothing can derail your best laid training plans and goals like an injury or suffering from OTS!  If you develop OTS, you will need to take specific steps to speed up your recovery in order to prevent injury and return to a normal training schedule.

AVAILABLE NOW ON AMAZON!

In my book, Preventing and Treating Overtraining Syndrome, I show you how to recognize the risk factors and symptoms of OTS.  You’ll learn how to utilize prevention strategies to help you develop a personal training strategy that will allow you to push past your limits and prior plateau points in order to reach a state of what is known as overreaching (your body’s ability to “supercompensate”).  This will speed up your results, so that you can train harder and more effectively than ever before!  In addition, learn how to use the foam roller (complete with photos and detailed exercise descriptions) as part of a health optimization program, recovery program, rest day or treatment modality.

Discover how you can continue to train hard and avoid the associated poor performance, illness, and injury that can result in lost training days and opportunity!

BUY NOW