Overtraining: A risk factor for injury

Health & Wellness

Recently I have found that I’m doing too much exercise. I got all excited about getting involved with a team sport, and I practiced days in a row leading up to a game. Because of ego, I ignored some red flags. The inevitable happened: My performance suffered, and I felt drained soreness. Then, as if that weren’t already enough, a couple days I did two full workouts in one day.

Working the same muscles on back-to-back days

It becomes crystal clear why properly warming up and cooling down is essential, if you happen to train the exact same movements on back-to-back days, especially if you haven’t incrementally progressed to the days’ intensity. As I threw the ball, I first got better and better…then ego took over when I started getting diminishing returns, and I kept going, trying to force myself to get better again. I did that three days in a row, and then played a game.

I ended up having to put my arms in cold water, and I could barely use my grip strength for the game itself. I felt like I had inflamed an old case of medial epicondylitis (golfer’s elbow), and my shoulders were on fire. And if that isn’t enough, the day after the game was my pull up session for the week.

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Doing two workouts in a day

I am definitely not an advocate of multiple workouts in a day. If you have worked out to true exhaustion, your central nervous system needs as much rest as your muscles and connective tissues. Doing this occasionally might not undermine your progress; however, habitually taking your body to the limit multiple times in a day is a risk factor for injury.

The reason I did two workouts that day was peer pressure, oddly enough. I’d already done an intense upper body workout that morning (after that game I just mentioned), not realizing I would get lassoed into a lower body workout two hours later. I never really got to do the lower body workout to full intensity, because I hadn’t eaten after the upper body series (hush… I know). So, I went into the lower body session hungry and tired, which increases the risk of using poor form and/or overstraining.

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To make it worse, I couldn’t eat after the second workout either, because I was at work and had to to train others. This is not ideal at all. If any good came from all this, it was that I was ravenous later, ate fully and then slept very deeply. However, those days altogether created a perfect storm for undermining my results by pushing my body just shy of its ability to recover. Any more of these abuses, and I’m pretty sure I would have gotten injured. A close call.

Lesson remembered: Find your limits, test them gradually, grow incrementally, and only then do you level up.

info: Jack Kirven completed the MFA in Dance at UCLA, and earned certification as a personal trainer through NASM. His wellness philosophy is founded upon integrated lifestyles as opposed to isolated workouts. Visit him at jackkirven.com and INTEGRE8Twellness.com.

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