Health Issues from Overtraining

If you are exercising regularly, or excessively, it may be crossing the line of balance; going beyond hurting and becoming harmful.

It’s all too common for us to be too inactive. We sit all day long without moving, or slouch on the sofa or bed. Then, in an effort to balance the inactivity, we over-exert ourselves while exercising, which is a recipe for disaster! I talk about how exercise is best done gently and regularly, with the analogy of brushing our teeth and looking after our backs and I cannot stress enough the importance of not going from one extreme to the other. A shift in mindset is required: our health is better served by gentle, regular movement and exercise. A hard workout is NOT a replacement for just sitting all day.

Please ensure you:

Move regularly during the day, taking breaks.

If you have been sitting a long time, take it easier in the gym or during your workout; give yourself longer to warm-up and don’t push it to the max until you are thoroughly warmed. (I talk more about warming up and stretching to prepare for exercise here.)

If you are getting a pain in a specific area or joint, that continues or increases as you keep exercising, then stop what you’re doing.

If you have exercised and have a little pain, but this pain comes on later, or the next morning, you may need to ease off, rest or stop for a while.

If the pain is sharp, stabbing, or severe, or if you experience swelling, bruising, or any sort of open wound, you should seek medical assistance.

Dizziness that persists or increases

You can have some slight dizziness with exercise, but it shouldn’t persist, or worsen as you exercise. A slight temporary dizziness after may happen, but should not continue. Working out shouldn’t make you dizzy or weak for extended periods of time. If you’re experiencing dizziness or feeling weak long after your workout, that’s not a good sign. Feeling temporarily dizzy from a workout is different than feeling dizzy all of the time.

It can be similar to postural hypotension, the dizziness some people get when they stand up too fast from lying down.

Dizziness can also be related to dehydration or to eating habits – either exercising just after eating or exercising on an empty stomach.

Tiredness, sleep disturbances, depression or anxiety

Whilst exercise can boost your immune system, overtraining continually too hard can cause some sickness, or extreme fatigue. Exercise should make you feel energized, not exhausted, and especially not if you’re tired all the time. Exercise can often help us sleep better, but sometimes overtraining can stop us sleeping as well.

Fatigue can have a number of causes; Vitamin D, iron deficiency, anaemia, along with other nutritional imbalances, such as not enough calories before and after working out, which can affect the blood sugar level. Excess over-training can lead to parasympathetic overtraining, sometimes with symptoms of fatigue & depression; your performance level may drop, along with adrenal dysfunction and mood disorders from increased cortisol.

Possibly working out earlier in the day or reducing intensity can help, along with some calming activities – mediation, yoga, Pilates, gently walking, swimming, and massage.

Heart stress

Palpations if your heart races too long after exercise might be a sign you’re overdoing it. The same goes for if your heart rate is fluctuating at rest. Clearly, if this happens, you must ease off your training and seek an appointment with your doctor or cardiologist.

Poor diet or nutrition with exercise

A poor diet can be disastrous when trying to train and exercise, especially if you are exercising very regularly and simply ‘don’t have time to organise a good diet’. Seeing a nutritionist or nutrition coach becomes essential and you may need to shift the focus of your health to include a good diet.

The harder we train, the more essential a good diet becomes!

Persistent muscle pain

Persistent muscle ache may be a sign of injury. Your muscles need time to recover after a workout, but should settle in a few days (see DOMS)

If the pain doesn’t settle, then seek treatment.

High Intensity Training – HIT

This training method has been used by several different forms of exercise regimes. Also known as High Intensity interval training (HIIT), insanity workout, bootcamp, military fitness, shock-cardio workouts, or simply rest-pause training, it consists of short bursts of intense workout followed by periods of rest. In short, this form of training is for people who are fit already, with no heart or underlying medical conditions. Even still, it needs to be done with caution, if at all. I write about this in my Blogs on HIT training and The dangers of HIT training.

Warming up and Stretching before exercise

Warming up is essential before sport. Stretching gently can be helpful, but it is important not to overdo the stretching whilst we are cold.

I used to play squash, a fantastic game, and it was all too easy to dash to court, stand waiting for the court to free up and then go in to play a league game. After standing either side for a couple of minutes without moving our feet, warming up the ball (not ourselves) we would then rush full tilt into an explosive competitive match… a recipe for disaster. 

Far better was to arrive 15 minutes early and either go for a jog to warm up or to go on court earlier if possible and play an exercise movement training session where both player and ball all move round the court gently and easily, warming up thoroughly before then playing a match.  When we did this both myself and my playing partner were much better warmed up.

Jeremy English, The Back Care Clinic

If you are interested in finding out how Chiropractic can be used to treat sports injuries, you can read our blog here and get in touch with the clinic.