Overtraining is a real risk that’s common for those who participate in martial arts. The intensity of the sport and the physical demands on the body requires proper recovery, yet this is a component of training many overlook. With such a strong focus on maintaining a consistent training schedule, keeping motivation levels high, and enhancing your technique, it can feel unnatural to take a step back. However, overtraining leads your body to a harmful state of exhaustion where not only will you cease to see progress, but your performance will decline as a result.
Fatigue is inevitable in combat sports - so how do you know when you’ve pushed yourself too far? Below are some signs and symptoms of overtraining:
Sympathetic symptoms (often experienced first)
- Increased resting heart rate
- Slow heart rate recovery
- Decreased appetite
- Decreased body mass
- Increased sweating
- Disturbed sleep pattern
- Decreased resting heart rate
- Decreased heart rate during light exercise
- Quicker to fatigue
- Output decreased
- Feeling apathetic
- Declined immune system - prone to getting sick
If you’re experiencing some of these symptoms, optimising your recovery is essential - not only for your performance but for your overall health. Below are some of our top tips to recover from overtraining.
Lower your training intensity
Feeling lethargic is one of the most obvious indicators of overtraining, and the lack of energy and motivation may make it tempting to skip training altogether. However, although dialling back is important, physical activity is important to stimulate blood flow and transport essential nutrients to areas in need of healing, such as inflamed muscles and injuries. Instead, low-intensity movement such as a brisk walk or controlled warm-up exercises is important to get your blood pumping without the risk of worsening your condition.
Soak in an Epsom salt bath
Epsom salt - also known as magnesium sulfate - has a broad range of benefits, especially for recovery. Soaking in a warm bath with a generous dose of epsom salts is a fantastic way to relax your joints, soothe sore muscles and prime your body for optimum recovery.
Have a sauna after training
Time in a sauna helps to promote blood flow, similar to light exercise. So if you have inflamed injuries that prevent you from maintaining movement throughout the week, this can be an excellent alternative. It also stimulates your body’s production of heat shock proteins and Human Growth Hormones (HGH), which further aid in recovery.
Invest in essential oils
Essential oils are compounds extracted from plants and have been linked to a wide array of benefits including relief from allergies, sinus issues, stress, and more. Although they can be extracted from many different sources for different treatments, Eucalyptus has been reported to be particularly beneficial for athletes due to its ability to open up the airways. Dilute a couple of drops into water and spray lightly onto the rocks at your sauna, or you can add a couple of drops to your bath or onto your pillow to promote relaxation and improved breathing while you sleep.
Visit a sensory deprivation tank
To reach a state of overtraining requires placing the body under significant stress through exercise, resulting in an overload of cortisol being secreted. Excess stress can have a number of consequences, such as reducing muscle growth and repair, compromising bone health, impairing immune function and reducing REM sleep. However, time in a sensory deprivation tank can combat cortisol levels and cause them to plummet after just one session. Floating in a tank of warm water mixed with nearly 1000 tonnes of Epsom salt allows your body to absorb the magnesium and reap magnificent benefits for muscle recovery.
Focus on maintaining good sleep hygiene
Don’t underestimate the power of sleep for your recovery! Non-REM sleep, or deep sleep, plays an important role in healing your muscles. During this phase, your brain is doing very little activity, your breathing slows, and your blood pressure drops. This allows more blood supply to your muscles, transporting more oxygen and essential nutrients to fuel recovery. Additionally, your pituitary gland releases HGH during deep sleep which helps repair muscles and build tissue. On the other hand, lack of sleep results in a decline of HGH, which is linked to loss of muscle mass and impaired performance. Therefore, it is essential to receive at least the recommended 7 - 9 hours of sleep per night. Some ways you can improve your quality of sleep are ensuring the room is pitch black, keeping your room temperature cool, stretching before bed and using blue light glasses at night.
The nutrients we receive from our food play a huge role in fueling our body’s recovery process. However, when we put our bodies through intense physical strain and have exceeded our capabilities, we can’t always derive the range and quantity of nutrients necessary to repair from our regular diets. Supplementing your diet with optimum sports nutrition products can be an easy and convenient way to not only support your full recovery, but to also ensure you perform at your peak.
CMBT RELOAD was engineered for combat athletes, by combat athletes. Not just your typical protein powder, RELOAD is formulated with a unique 4 stage recovery system to support holistic recovery. Combining our powerful Plant Protein Blend, Gut Health Blend, Electrolyte Blend and Anti-Inflammatory Blend, our wholefood protein formula powers your recovery and overall health. Click here to find out more.
It’s crucial that you listen to your body and respond appropriately when you’re feeling your performance and health decline. The consequences of overtraining span far beyond feeling fatigued, and can keep you out of the gym for months - even years - if not seriously addressed.
If you want to find out more about overtraining syndrome, click here to read our article about the three phases and the signs of each.
Brand, E. (2014). 3 Advanced Techniques to Help Recover From Overtraining. Retrieved fromhttps://www.onnit.com/academy/3-advanced-techniques-to-help-recover-from-overtraining/
Submission Shark. (2020). How To Prevent and Recover from Overtraining | MMA/BJJ Training Tips. Retrieved from https://submissionshark.com/blogs/bjj-recovery-tips/prevent-overtraining
MMA Training Bible. (n.d.). How to Avoid Overtraining in MMA. Retrieved from http://mmatrainingbible.com/how-to-avoid-overtraining-in-mma/
SportsLab NYC. (n.d.) The Importance of Sleep for Muscle Recovery. Retrieved from https://sportslabnyc.com/sleep-muscle-recovery/