We’ve all been there: A special event, an obsession with your new workout or a goal that is just around the corner and then – wham! Suddenly your shoulder is killing you or your knee is swollen. Yep, you’ve over-worked yourself into an injury — and are suddenly wondering why you didn’t take a few more rest days along the way.
The more you work, the more you train, the more stress you’re putting on the body. If you’re not allowing the body to recover, you’re causing yourself more harm than good. After all, exercise doesn’t just impact your muscles — it impacts your digestion, kidney function, hormone regulation and more! Before injury strikes, listen to these three signs that might indicate your body needs some time off.
1. YOU ARE SORE ALWAYS
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. But if you’re exercising regularly, you shouldn’t constantly be feeling sore. Overtraining can best be defined as the state where you have been repeatedly stressed by training to the point where rest is no longer adequate to allow for recovery. Persistent muscle soreness, getting sick more often, or frequent injuries are all physical symptoms of overtraining. Fortunately, recovery is simple — just take it easy for a few days!
2. YOU ARE CONSTANTLY TIRED OR 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 happy, thanks to a rush of endorphins — a stress-fighting chemical — in the brain. However, those endorphins are also accompanied by cortisol, a stress hormone. And when cortisol levels remain high for an extended period, they take a toll on mental health.
3. YOU ARE STIFF ALL THE TIME
If a few too many days of pounding the pavement leave you unable to bend over without creaking knees or a stiff back, it might be time to take it easy for a while. If your body doesn’t have the proper mobility, you’re going to create dysfunction in your movement pattern. In other words, doing the same activity over and over (running, cycling, lifting) without proper recovery is going to cause injury. Keep your body limber and flexible to prevent injury.
The best thing about noticing these symptoms? It’s a whole lot easier to relax, stretch and drink H2O than it is to recover from an injury or serious overtraining. A little R&R is sometimes just what your body ordered!