What is it?
Overtraining syndrome is a neuroendocrine disorder that can result from overtraining and reflects accumulated fatigue during periods of excessive training with inadequate recovery time. Overtraining syndrome is a common cause of persistent tiredness in athletes. Unfortunately, some athletes react to their impaired performance by increasing the intensity of the training. This may further impair performance, resulting in additional training and thereby creating a vicious cycle that leads to overtraining syndrome.
What are the symptoms?
The initial symptom is usually fatigue but in time other symptoms develop. There are a large number of symptoms associated with overtraining syndrome, both physiological and psychological, however, the only symptoms consistently shown in scientific studies are;
- Performance decrements
- Persistent high fatigue ratings
- Decreased maximal heart rate
- Neuroendocrine changes
- High self-reported stress levels and sleep disturbances
Decreases in muscle strength and endurance may be seen in association with fatigue.
How is it treated?
In patients who present with a relatively brief history of overtraining, complete rest is recommended in the short term and the athlete is advised to get as much sleep as possible over the next 48 hours. If the syndrome is not severe this may be sufficient. However, if this period of rest does not reduce the athlete’s fatigue overtraining syndrome has developed. This may take weeks or months to resolve. Treatment includes rest, attention to dietary and fluid intake and psychological support.