Exercise at mild or moderate levels is beneficial to your physical and mental health. Unfortunately, all the benefits will not occur if the training load is increased beyond a certain point. Overreaching is good; athletes must stress the body above what is required for general fitness to maximize performance gains. However, overreaching must be combined with adequate rest to ensure it is beneficial. Overtraining occurs when the work level is beyond physical tolerance limits, and there is incomplete recovery during rest periods. Overtraining syndrome is an extreme reduction in the capacity to train and compete at normal levels that persists for weeks or months, and it is a direct consequence of the stress of training paired with insufficient recovery.
I know that most athletes are waiting for weeks to get back to work; however, over-excitement can result in training beyond your physical tolerance without appropriate rest, which can lead to overtraining. And in the worst-case scenario, your super enthusiasm can cause your body to respond negatively to the increase in training volume. Instead of performance gains, you can develop the overtraining syndrome.
Overtraining syndrome cause changes in the nervous system and endocrine system, especially the hypothalamus, which is the part of the brain that maintains the body’s internal balance. The physical signs of overtraining syndrome are depressed immunity and increased risk of infections, sleep disturbances, loss of appetite, intense muscle soreness, feelings of heaviness in the arms and legs, and increased perception of effort associated with training. Overtraining syndrome also causes many psychological symptoms such as mood disturbances, irritability, and depression. About 80% of overtrained athletes meet the diagnostic criteria of clinical depression. Also, during the difficult times we are living now, you do not want to over train and drain your ability to fight any disease.
To know if you are overtrained, you can listen to your body or listen to your heart. Analysis of your Heart Rate Variability can inform you about your current physical and mental state. Heart Rate Variability (HRV) is the changes in the time intervals between consecutive heartbeats. If you say that your heart rate is 60 beats per minute, it does not mean that your heart beats at every second. The time can be 0.8 seconds, 1.2 seconds, 0.9 seconds, and so on. There are many ways of measuring HRV, and the Standard Deviation of each normal wave of all cardiac cycles (SDNN) is one measurement used in sports performance. SDNN reflects the Autonomic Nervous System balance or the way Sympathetic and Parasympathetic Nervous System is interacting to facilitate self-regulation. If a healthy and fit individual takes multiple SDNN measurements over time, a decrease in the SDNN can indicate an immune-system related illness onset, sleep deprivation, jet lag, and overtraining. SDNN can work as your biomarker of physical dysfunction or distress. When the SDNN returns to previous values, it indicates readiness to perform.
In summary, high volumes and a higher intensity of training without monitoring can affect the athletes’ overall health. And if athletes end up developing Overtraining Syndrome, the recovery can take months or years. Fortunately, if you learn to monitor your mind and body using psychophysiological instruments, these tools will provide you practical ways of reducing the risks of overtraining and the consequences to your physical and mental health.