In the workout world, overtraining is like a cussing Christian. Lots of people do it, few talk openly about it. The reality is: if you love working out, and you stay active for any amount of time, there’s a good chance you will face some sort of injury. Don’t fear!
Injury doesn’t have to mean something serious, although it certainly can. More often than anything, the biggest injury I face (I’m cussing now) is overtraining. I have O blood type, which means my ancestors were the original hunter gathers and I am energized by intense physical exercise and exertion. Maybe that’s an excuse or justification, maybe it’s real. The bottom line is I work out a lot.
Here’s what I found about O blood type people like myself: Your genetic makeup most closely resembles the cavemen and women who spent their days hunting and defending themselves against predators. You tend to be strong and athletic—gotta love those powerful arms and legs—and, because you’re no longer chasing your meals, you crave high-intensity workouts like interval training, running, and plyometrics. You use exercise as an emotional outlet, and need it more than other blood types to fight stress and anxiety and boost your mood.
Umm, hi. Pretty much that’s me in a nutshell. So weird, right? Pushing myself, sweating hard every day, grinding it out on the bike or hitting the pavement is seriously my jam. And I need it not only physically, but emotionally. It’s my sanity session. But because I love it so much (and need it so much), I can tend to overdo it. For example, right now. Right now I’m in the process of learning to dial down my activity level and clean up my eating because I’m not recovering well. My body is stiff and sore and I’m not progressing. I’m not getting faster or leaner, but unfortunately metabolizing my own lean muscle. No bueno.
And then there’s the pesky little fact that 80% of body composition is determined by how you eat. Did you hear that?
Insert the knife to my gut and twist it why don’t you?! I don’t want to hear that! Trust me, I’m way more okay with hearing I can eat what I want and burn it off the next day. Calories in, calories out. Shoot.
If you’re interested in finding out what your blood type says about you and the best exercise for your body, you can find it here. This whole blood-type eating and exercise is not new, but it’s new to me and I’m loving it.
So what about if you’ve been overtraining? What if you’re stiff and sore or you’ve had a more serious injury that just won’t heal? Here are the things I do to recover from overtraining and injury, and the people I trust to help me.
1. Rest: You’ve got to listen to your body and if you’re like me, rest is hard. Being honest, it takes everything in me to take one day off each week from physical activity and I don’t like it. Your body will tell you when it’s tired and you need to try to listen. If you don’t, you set yourself up for longer periods of time off recovering from something more serious.
2. Ice: One of the biggest things we face as athletes is inflammation. You’ve trained hard or long and you’ve created microscopic tears in your muscle fibers, which is normal and will heal to make you stronger. But for the moment, you’re sore, achy or stiff. Or maybe you pushed just a little too hard, or went a little too far. When I was training for Ironman I would sit in an ice bath for preventative healing. Fill a large bucket with ice and fill your bath with cool water. After you get into the cool water start adding the ice to drop the temperature. Trust me, it is way easier to do it this way, rather than trying to get into an already freezing ice bath. Get in, then get it cold. Stay in for 10 minutes if you can. If your injury is in a localized area, spare yourself the ice bath and apply ice directly to the angry area.
3. Massage: Who doesn’t need an excuse for a massage? While getting a Swedish massage is a calm and relaxing experience, deep tissue massage sometimes hurts. A good masseuse trained in deep tissue work, or one who has experience with athletes, will be able to help release lactic acid buildup and relieve tension from areas keeping you locked up or hurting. Deep tissue massage increases blood flow throughout the body, helping to reduce inflammation that causes pain. Other benefits of deep tissue massage include: improved blood pressure, breaking up scar tissue, rehabilitation of injured muscles and stress relief. Ask friends and family for recommendations and after any massage, remember to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.
4. Supplements: I have never been a big supplement gal but as I train longer and harder and, ahem, get older, (whatever), I realize that I need to take supplements for those micronutrients my body is either no longer producing, or has no other way to find. The three I’m using and loving right now are:
- Micro-Encapsulated Instantiated BCAAs (Branch Chain Amino Acids). I just recently started taking BCAAs and I’m loving it. My husband started taking them about a year ago and says he’s never felt better. I’m loving the watermelon flavor but there’s lots of yummy ones that taste great!
- Glumatic: I found a more concentrated version at my local supplement store but you can try the one I linked here that’s just less concentrated. Mine is called Glumatic and this one is L-Glutamine but it’s essentially the same thing. This supplement aids in recovery when you’ve got that I’m so sore feeling.
- Joint Complex: For whatever reason my joints are a bit loose and I had a pretty bummer injury in my hip years ago while training for Ironman. I’m still nursing it. Since I’m not getting any younger, I just started taking the Kat-a-lyst Joint Complex supplement. I couldn’t find the exact one on Amazon, but I linked up one for you that’s really close.
5. Chiropractic Care: I love my chiropractor. There are a lot of people who are afraid to go, or think it’s quackery, but it’s not. My husband is a medical doctor and firmly believes in the benefits of chiropractic care. That said, as with any professional, make sure you do your research and find one that comes highly recommended.
6. Physical Therapy: I hate to say this is my last resort, but this is my last resort. Why? Two reasons: time and work. I have three little kids and finding the time to get to regular physical therapy has been an obstacle at best. Second, there’s a lot of work involved and I usually want to find a quicker, more painless solution. Alas, some injuries will never heal or get better without the help of a trained physical therapist. I recently cried uncle on my lingering hip injury and made the decision I will start seeing a therapist this fall. Why fall? Because all of my children will finally be in school. Holla! Need I say any more?!
If you love working out, and love not only the physical results but the endorphin boosting, mind clearing, emotional charging benefits, you may find yourself in a similar place as I have: overtrained and/or possibly injured. Boo. If you do, all is not lost. You just need to dial it back a bit. Help your body by listening to it, taking supplements to get the micronutrients you need, and seek out professionals who are trained to help you find your best again. I’m not quitting and neither can you!
What are your favorite ways to heal or your personal favorite supplements?