Mar 23 , 2021
Physical Contributors to Stress: Overtraining/Injury
In our society we are often led to believe that more is always better; however, it is important to know that this is most often not the case, especially when it comes to exercise/training. It is a delicate balance that can have significant stress effects on the body.
Physical Impacts of Overtraining
Repeated stress on the body without proper recovery periods will encourage chronic inflammation that can cause damage that may or may not present itself outwardly initially. Chronic inflammation due to overtraining can induce an even more extreme catabolic state within the body. This can cause the body to break down essential tissues and cells to gain access to molecules necessary to cope with the inflammation and other upregulated processes. This perpetual catabolic state also increases the production of acid in the body. As we learned before, the kidney and lungs may be unable to fully compensate or may become fatigued and injured from having to constantly compensate for the increased acid production. Symptoms of stress from overtraining include fatigue, injury, inability to recover between workouts, mood instability/swings or depression and decreased performance.
Health Impacts of Overtraining
Stress from overtraining can affect health in a variety of ways, including compromised immunity, upper respiratory tract infections and alterations in heart rate and function. With the stress of overtraining, there is a decrease in the production of certain molecules and a suppression of others that are essential for a strong immune system. An increase in cytotoxic activity in the blood has also been observed in some cases. These things combined can compromise the effectiveness of the immune system. Upper respiratory infections have been found to be more common with over training. This is due in part to a compromised immune system and an increase in work that the respiratory system must do to compensate for the excessive acid being produced. A chronic increase in heart rate can be seen with overtraining, as well as alterations in heart rate variability.
Nutritional Impacts of Overtraining
The nutritional impacts from stress of overtraining can be varied, but more importantly are often not compensated for by the individual. The idea of train more and eat less is so engrained in our society that most people don’t stop to think about the damage that this could be doing on the body. One of the things that happens with overtraining is an increased demand for glucose and protein. With the stress of overtraining comes an elevated need for glucose and protein that is often not compensated for by the individual. This can result in the over-use of endogenous sources (including the breakdown and catabolism of essential tissues) – gluconeogenesis & proteolysis. Another side effect of overtraining is a decrease in circulating glutamine concentrations. Glutamine is an essential precursor to the production of various essential molecules, including inflammatory proteins. The chronic inflammation in response to the stress of overtraining can cause a decrease in the amount of available glutamine. This means that there may not be adequate amounts of circulating glutamine for essential processes.
Knowing how your exercise/training can affect, lead to or alleviate, stress in the body, will help you make more informed physical activity choices throughout your week. It is important to know what your goals are and what is required to reach them, without going too far. It is helpful to do a little self-introspection and ask yourself these questions: What are you training for? What is important? What is it worth to you? How far do you really need to go to reach your goal? Are you approaching it in a healthy way? As stated at the beginning, more is not necessarily always better. Everyone has a threshold and a balance that needs to be honored. It is important do enough exercise to help you reach your goal, but not too much to where you start adding extra stress leading to damage to your body.
- Know the signs and symptoms of overtraining.
- Review the stressors that overtraining without adequate rest can place on the body.
- This way you can better recognize the symptoms if they happen to you.
- Create a training journal.
- Track your exercise and how your feeling.
- Note any signs or symptoms of overtraining.
- Tracking with more Specificity:
- Subjective observations can help, but it is more useful to get objective measurements.
- HRV monitoring
- Body composition measurements
- Resting Metabolic testing