The overtraining, or under-recovery, syndrome results when an athlete performs at a level below his or her abilities and fails to recover from the stress of training and competition. It usually occurs following a high level of training with inadequate periods of rest, resulting in physical and/or emotional burnout. Early recognition and intervention can often reduce or prevent the condition.


Risk factors:

(1) intensive interval training with little chance to recover, especially if pursued compulsively/neurotically

(2) large amount of monotonous training

(3) physical stress with dehydration and/or injury

(4) psychological stresses associated with competitive sports

(5) outside psychological stresses for those with other commitments such as full time job, family, etc.


Physical changes:

(1) underperformance despite training (lower peak power, lower endurance)

(2) fatigue out of proportion to exertion, low vigor

(3) slow recovery following exercise

(4) raised resting pulse rate

(5) frequent minor infections, especially of the upper respiratory tract


Mood changes ("burnout")

(1) depression

(1a) loss of purpose and competitive drive

(1b) loss of libido

(1c) sleep disturbances (difficulty going to sleep, waking during the night, nightmares, early waking, waking unrefreshed)

(1d) excessive sweating

(1e) loss of appetite

(2) increased anxiety

(3) irritability, anger and outbursts


With overtraining performance deteriorates as training increases, rather than improving.


Differential diagnosis:

(1) over-reaching (athlete recovers quickly with rest)

(2) infectious disease

(3) psychological problem not due to sport

(4) metabolic disease

(5) nutritional deficiency, including anorexia nervosa


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