“My knee just doesn’t feel quite right!”
“I’m not sure why, but the bottom of my feet have been killing me lately.”
“It’s nothing serious, it’s just my lower back is so tight!”
Many of us have been there. We’re into moving and grooving, our workouts are on point and then BAM! Something on our body just doesn’t feel quite right. It’s not that you have to make a dash to your doctor, but you’re starting to think, maybe I should?!
When we get to the point where we start to have signs that our body is telling us that we might need a break, we need to listen.
To keep on track, we need to make sure we know some signs to look for — and then know to stop and read those signs once they pop up in front of us.
1. You are ALWAYS Sore
Sure, a bit of muscle soreness after a particularly strenuous workout is totally normal, especially if you’re newer to exercise or you’re switching up your routine.
What we’re talking about is when you have persistent muscle soreness, you get sick more often or you start to see frequent injuries one right after another. This is a good sign of overtraining, which can best be defined as the state where the person has been repeatedly stressed by training to the point where rest is no longer adequate to allow for recovery. (you’re knocking down that wall but not giving any time to get the construction crew in to fix what you broke!) Fortunately, recovery is simple — just take it easy for a few days!
2. You’re Always Tired and Are Moody
Moodiness, depression and fatigue are also indications that you might be overtraining. Most of us have heard that exercise is supposed to make us happier, thanks to a rush of endorphins — a stress-fighting chemical — in the brain. However, those endorphins are also accompanied by cortisol, a stress hormone. Our cortisol levels go up with stress and inflammation — and exercise can add stress to the systems and increase our inflammation levels. Over an extended period of time, with high levels of training, it takes a toll on mental health and shows in our physical performance and with injuries.
3. Watch Your Heart Rate Over Time
One of the best ways to gauge if you might need a break, more rest, change up your diet or even change up your program for a short time is to monitor your heart rate. This isn’t for just a day or two, but watch it over an extended period of time. I know I have a watch that can monitor my heart rate each day. When I’m stressed, my sleep pattern is off, I’m training (but I can even tell that my workouts aren’t on point), my heart rate normally will go up over that time period, sometimes up by 8-10 beats per minute (bpm) at rest. This might be a way for you to monitor and control when you need a little more rest and recovery.
4. You’re Stiff More Than Normal — For Longer Than Normal
If after a few days of training, doing a boot camp and/or other activities leaves you unable to bend over to slip on your shoe or you need to take an extra 5 minutes in the morning to really decide if it would be easier to just stay in bed fore the day than get up and move across the room, it might be time to take it easy for a while or at least change up your program.
In other words, doing the same activity over and over (running, cycling, lifting) without changing up what you are doing and without proper recovery it can lead to injury. As part of your program, work to include stretching and foam rolling. You might even lay out your training schedule to include recovery days to keep your body limber and prevent injury.
The best thing about noticing and tracking these symptoms — it’s a lot easier to back off or take off a day or two than the need to take a day to run see that doctor!
Mark “Coach Rozy” Roozen, M.Ed, CSCS,*D, NSCA-CPT, FNSCA is a Performance Coach with over 30 years in the fitness and performance business, He is Founder/Director of Coach Rozy Performance. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org ,817-219-2811 or go to www.coachrozy.com