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Overtraining Syndrome

Athletes often get into an overtraining syndrome in which they become injured or suffer frequent infections, feel exhausted, don't perform up to their usual levels, and even lose interest in training. If they could use a blood test to tell them when to cut back on their training, they could prevent overtraining syndrome.

Training for athletic competition is done by stressing and recovering. An athlete takes a hard workout on one day, feels sore on the next day and then takes easy workouts until the muscles feel fresh again. However, you have to do a lot of work to be a world-class athlete so athletes often train too much and suffer from the overuse syndrome. When athletes train too much, blood levels rise of the breakdown products of protein metabolism such as ammonia and urea and damaged cells release enzymes such as creatine kinase. The ratio of testosterone to cortisol is used as an indication of the buildup and breakdown of tissue. As tissue is broken down and the stress on the body increases, testosterone levels go down and cortisol levels rise. When your body is exhausted, blood levels of the stress hormones, adrenaline and noradrenaline rise. Blood levels drop of ACTH which stimulates your adrenal glands, growth hormone, cortisol and insulin. However, all measurements are nothing more than laboratory values which are not as dependable as asking how the athlete feels. To avoid overtraining, injuries and frequent infections, athletes should train very hard not more often than every third or fourth day, back off from heavy training when their muscles or joints feel sore, and take off whenever they feel that they are losing interest.

June 5th, 2013
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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