About athletic burnout
Fatigue is inevitable for athletes following hard training and tough competition; sometimes they may even reach a state where simple rest is no longer adequate for full recovery. Athletes and coaches know this as “burnout” or “staleness” due to overtraining and cumulative exhaustion. The fatigue athletes may present a collection of emotional and physical symptoms, including moodiness, insomnia, depression, a loss of appetite, persistent muscular soreness, and susceptibility to viral infections and injuries. Medically, the fatigue syndrome is classified as a neuro-endocrine disorder.
How Chinese Medicine explains
Ancient Chinese believed qi was the most fundamental entity making up the world, everything in the universe resulted from the movement and change of qi, which is interpreted as the “life energy” or “life force”, flowing within the body, and responsible for the majority of physiological activities. Physical exercise involves vigorous qi activities, in order to reinforce the muscular contractions, promote blood flowing to the muscles and bones, accelerate the heart pumping and breathing in the lungs. When there is sufficient qi to enable the organs to coordinate and work efficiently with one another, a high level of physical performance can be attained.Qi tonics ensure qi reserve and boost its efficacy inside the body, therefore herbs like rhodiola, ginseng, prickly acanthopanax root, cordyceps and schisandra are usually made into supplements to enhance physical performance. These herbs are considered adaptogens, and have been proved to increase physical capacity and promote recovery after intense training.
The body needs to constantly replenish qi from external sources such as the air we breathe, food and drink. Achieving a balance between qi health and physical exercise is very important. Prolonged and intense physical activities make its hard for the body to meet the high demand for qi; the re-uptake mechanism cannot keep up and the recovery process becomes impaired. When the qi exhaustion is severe, it will result in fatigue, lack of energy and poor physical performance; sometimes qi disturbances develop and affect the overall health. TCM practitioners will use different approaches to help bring about a full athletic recovery.
How Chinese Medicine helps
For herbal remedies, in addition to herbs like astragalus root, largehead atractylodes rhizome and pilose asiabell root to help replenish qi, particular herbs should be selected according to the circumstances of the athlete. For example, mental fatigue that is associated with moodiness, easily irritated and insomnia, angelica root, white peony root and albizia flower may be used to calm and nourish the mind. Physical fatigue associated with muscular soreness, tendon and joint pain, indicate the use of herbs like Sichuan lovage, red peony root and angelica root to promote blood circulation and remove stasis. Fatigue of the internal organs can lead to various symptoms, with those involving the digestion being the most common. Herbs like poria, Chinese yam and processed liquorice root help promote appetite, relieve limb weakness and abnormal bowels; glehnia root and dwarf lily-turf tuber help arrest excessive sweating, thirst and feeble breathing; processed rhemannia rhizome, cornus fruit and eucommia bark help strengthen tendons and bones, and warm the body. In additional, the TCM practitioner will also consider the intensity of the sport, age, sex, lifestyle of the athlete as well as environmental factors when choosing the remedy to combat the fatigue.
Chinese holistic approach will help to improve physical performance; however proper rest, diet and nutrition are also important for athletes to remain in tip top physical health.