Non-Functional Overreaching vs Overtraining Syndrome
Athletes who train and compete hard and long can work themselves to ‘death’, to where they actually stop improving and may start backsliding. Non-functional overreaching (NFO) is considered a short-term reduction in work capacity (reduced strength, power, speed, endurance) lasting a few weeks or months. Overtraining syndrome (OTS) may take months or even years to recover. Neither requires an explicit or acute injury but both could predispose one to chronic or multiple nagging ones. Diagnosing which is which and when an athlete is in such a state is an inexact science.
In the past it was thought that certain blood values or mood states (like depression) could useful. A group of Belgian researchers proposed that a Training Optimization Test (TOT, ”a two-bout maximal incremental exercise test protocol”) might allow them to determine, via discriminant analysis, how to diagnose NFO vs OTS. Previous studies suggested that hormonal imbalances were likely targets of investigation. Cortisol – which is sometimes a useful hormone, sometimes not, ACTH (adrenocorticotrophic hormone), prolactin [PRL], and human growth hormone [GH], seemed most likely.
One hundred healthy, athletic subjects who had complained of reduced performance performed the TOT after a standardized diet one hour before the test. Blood was drawn pre- and post- each phase of the 2-stage test.
Hormonal and psychological results were valuable determinants of NFO and OTS, with ACTH and PRL being the ‘most indicative’. Cortical response was of nominal value, while delayed GH recovery is suggestive of OTS. Elevated ‘negative mood’ after the first test and more tension after the second were different in OTS and NFO.
MSSE Dec. 2019
Progressing Older Adults’ Resistance Training
Decades of research has shown resistance training for older adults (those older than me, of course) “experience significant improvements in quality of life and capacity for independent living through regular participation.” But there is no consensus on how or when to progress their training loads. The 3 most common are “ 1) rating of perceived exertion [RPE: subjective measure of work], 2) a targeted number of repetitions [inexact and imprecise compared to young athletes] and 3) a percentage of the one-repetition maximum [often calculated only in clinical studies, not in gym environments].”
Eighty-two older men and women were recruited to do 12 weeks of supervised training. Three groups were progressed according to one of the 3 protocols above. The primary outcomes were overall strength gain, “self-reported exercise tolerance and enjoyment recorded immediately after each session using an anonymous survey.”
All groups gained comparable strength and functional movement capacities but only the group that gave a RPE score by which to progress their training reported the training to be “significantly more tolerable and enjoyable than subjects in the other groups.”
Thus, using a 1-10 scale of difficulty, with1 being easiest, if a load is an 8 or higher, there should be no progression of load, just reps, until such time as it is reported as less than 8 for two consecutive sessions.
MSSE Nov. 2019
When the arthritic joint hurts, it’s not unusual to be advised to get a cortisone injection. A recent study reported in the journal Radiology found that a shot might elevate your risk of an “adverse joint event.” Up to 10% of hips and 4% of knees that were injected had one. Another study in JAMA found that quarterly injections might accelerate cartilage wear compared to those in the placebo group. UC-Berkeley Wellness Letter, Jan. 2020
The ADA recommends the average adult consume 0.8 g/kg of protein a day. Recent studies suggest older adults – >60 – get 1.2 g/kg/day. Now a meta-analysis study in Computational and Structural Biotechnology Journal (July, 2019) found that people 65 and up had improved bone health if they ate more protein. While some other studies have found a negative correlation between protein intake and bone health, this one found higher bone density and a reduced risk of hip fractures. The CSBJ article did not specify how much protein to consume other than to say ‘more than recommended levels.’ Cleveland Clinic Arthritis Advisor Jan. 2020
Does icing a sprain really help? For years we’ve been advised to RICE a musculoskeletal injury: rest, ice, compression, elevation. Now, it seems, more recent studies of inflammation have determined that icing or cryotherapy may not be best; in fact, inflammation serves a positive purpose, and suppressing it may actually delay recovery. Too, instead of resting an injury, resuming a lower or low intensity of movement may hasten recovery and healing. But note, icing does reduce pain and some swelling, and has no negative effects compared to drugs; and it may even enable the usual post-injury neuromuscular inhibition that normally shuts down muscle activity around the injured joint. Ultimately, do what works best for you, but don’t put too much faith in anecdote alone. Washington Post Mar. 2019