More and more research, literature and editorial articles continue to emerge about Over Training Syndrome (OTS). In some ways, it seems we are closer than ever to understanding how this condition develops and how we can confidently diagnose and treat it in struggling athletes. In other ways, it feels as though definitive diagnosis eludes us, leaving athletes and their health care team scratching their heads trying to figure out the root cause of on-going pain, fatigue, depression, poor performance, etc., etc. in once-rock star athletes.
Despite this agonizing struggle to truly understand OTS and its definitive genesis, diagnosis and treatment, I found this position paper by Dr. Phil Maffetone to be intriguing.
Outside Magazine continues to follow developments in the pursuit of understanding this perplexing condition. Their latest article, 4 Theories About Overtraining, shares some commonalities with Dr. Maffetone’s perspectives, the most synchronous of which is the idea that overtraining is tied in some way to the body’s inability to adequately handle the amount of stressors placed upon it. Put another way, if an athlete is experiencing excessive stress–be it intentional physical stress associated with following a methodical training plan, or unintentional stress of the psychological or biochemical nature–the inability to adapt and successfully recover from that stress may be a key to why some athletes develop overtraining and others do not. And it may be that athletes can develop OTS without engaging in extreme levels of training–especially if adaptive measures are lacking. Insufficient sleep, nutrition and psychological stress management techniques may be as culpable in the development of OTS as the magnitude of training volume and intensity.
Dr. Maffit’s paper breaks overtraining into 3 theoretical stages, starting with moving from functional to non-functional overreaching (Stage 1) and progressing to the most severe form of OTS (Stage 3) in which the athlete can no longer perform/compete due to the extreme nature of their symptoms which are paired with significantly altered stress hormone and resting heart rate levels.
Give these two pieces a read, and tell us what you think.
”...it may be that athletes can develop OTS without engaging in extreme levels of training--especially if adaptive measures are lacking. Insufficient sleep, nutrition and psychological stress management techniques may be as culpable in the development of OTS as the magnitude of training volume and intensity.awc author