What is Overtraining Syndrome?

Recently, Olympic swimmer Simone Manuel revealed she was suffering from “overtraining syndrome” after experiencing fatigue, depression, insomnia & decreased performance. 

The Philadelphia Inquirer wrote:

“Overtraining syndrome is an important and often under-recognized problem in athletes. It can start in youth sports and progress up to the highest level of competition. An athlete’s body is like a machine, and without enough rest between workouts or fuel from nutritional support, the machine can be strained and start to break down. Overtraining syndrome occurs when the body starts to break down from prolonged overuse, leading to physical and emotional symptoms. It has sometimes been referred to as “burnout” and has led some athletes to change sports, or drop down in levels of competition, or even retire from sports.” 

Rest is an essential ingredient in one’s training program

Competitive athletes like to train! Rest is very hard for many, but is an essential ingredient in one’s training plan. Some athletes say, “rest is unnecessary” or “a waste of time.” But rest helps the muscular, nervous, and immune systems recover, helps to strengthen and rebuild, while allowing athletes to minimize soreness, inflammation, and illness.  Rest helps with recovery and performance gains. For more about why rest days are important, check out this article.

In addition to rest days, another crucial aspect for athletes to consider in their training regimen is prioritizing quality sleep. Just as rest allows the body to recover, sleep plays a vital role in optimizing athletic performance and overall well-being. Adequate and restorative sleep is essential for muscle repair, hormone regulation, and mental rejuvenation. It not only helps athletes recover from intense workouts but also contributes to improved focus, reaction time, and decision-making abilities. Research has shown that athletes who prioritize sleep experience enhanced physical performance, reduced risk of injuries, and better overall recovery. Establishing a consistent sleep routine, creating a sleep-friendly environment, and practicing relaxation techniques can all contribute to better sleep, ensuring athletes are well-prepared and energized for their training sessions and competitions. So, remember, incorporating strategies for better sleep into your training program can be the game-changer you need to excel in your athletic pursuits.


  • Fatigue
  • Decreased performance (slower, weaker, less endurance)
  • Reduced training response (failure to progress despite training hard)
  • Altered heart rate (too slow/fast heart rate – check with MD!)
  • Changes in vital signs in positions (change in pulse or blood pressure)
  • Hormone changes (decreased estrogen/females, decreased testosterone/males, increased cortisol- stress hormone)
  • Repeat injuries or back pain ( availing chiropractic care for lower back pain tends to be an effective remedy )
  • Decreased interest/enjoyment in sport
  • Loss of motivation
  • Depression, anxiety, irritability
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Changes in weight
  • Perpetually sore muscles, and more! 

A sports dietitian (Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics – CSSD), a sports medical doctor, and a sports psychologist can be helpful to those experiencing this. 

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