Overtraining Syndrome (OTS)
BJJ is demanding on the body and not to mention incredibly addictive. When intense periods of training tempered with appropriate rest and recovery, there are tremendous benefits for fitness, health and skill. Unfortunately, sometimes the athletes get pushed too far or are pushed to their limit too soon and Overtraining Syndrome (OTS) can result.
Overtraining syndrome is defined as “an accumulation of stress, due to training and additional life stressors, that results in long-term performance decrement that may or may not be accompanied by psychological and physiological signs and symptoms”. Typically it develops insidiously over months. Classic signs and symptoms of OTS are;
2. Mood changes (e.g. irritability)
3. Decreased performance for more than 2 months
4. Frequent Injuries
5. Increased achiness
Identifying the early signs and symptoms of overreaching and overtraining can help stop OTS. Typically endurance athletes in sports like cycling, running, rowing and swimming, where the body is under tremendous stress for long periods are at greater risk, however, I’ve seen many BJJ and MMA teammates suffer from it as well.
The progression of overtraining can be seen above. Interestingly the scientific community distinguishes the phases Overreaching and Overtraining not by the severity of symptoms, but the duration of recovery required.
Overtraining syndrome is a diagnosis of exclusion, meaning all other potential medical causes need to be ruled out first. It can be only diagnosed if a 2-3 week trial of rest is used first which is unsuccessful at reducing the symptoms. Unfortunately, there aren’t currently any accurate laboratory tests to check for OTS.
Some strategies to help prevent OTS in athletes are;
1. Provide adequate recovery periods
2. Adjust volume and intensity based on performance, monotony strain and mood.
3. Adequate calorie intake
4. Achieve adequate sleep
5. Reduce the influence of psychological stressors
6. Abstain from training during periods of high stress in mood sleep, environment and body
7. Psychological stress questionnaire monitoring
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3) Kreher JB, Schwartz JB. Overtraining syndrome: a practical guide. Sports Health. 2012;4(2):128–138.16
4) Meeusen R, Duclos M, Foster C, Fry A, Gleeson M, Nieman D, Raglin J, Rietjens G, Steinacker J, Urhausen A, European College of Sport Science., American College of Sports Medicine. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2013 Jan; 45(1):186-205.