OTS: Over Training Syndrome
As a nutritional biochemist and neuroscientist in private practice for 30 years helping thousands of people overcome the most complex and challenging health and life challenges from deathly ill laypeople to burned out elite athletes including Olympic and World Record holders, I have realized that health functionality exists on the same biological functionality spectrum from disease to athleticism. I tell my clients to be healthy you have to create your own inner athlete. Health can no longer be considered a valid state by virtue of lack of symptoms but by the existence of optimal integrated higher order biological states. These states need optimization on both a biological and neurological level.
OTS is a perfect storm of ontological factors including psychological, financial, and biological negative factors converging for a person because of overuse of biological and neurological resources. This goes way beyond just a hyper vigilant state of the neuroendocrine system and hypo functional state of the immune system. This is just the tip of the iceberg of a much worse and complex series of secondary auto logical compensations by the body when put under this kind of exertion intensity and duration stress. The average elite athlete has limited information about their baseline functional capacity and embarks on extreme training and performance regimens that are exceeding every normal healthy primary biological response capacity of the body. They are pushing their high energy/higher order/high complexity primary auto logical response systems consistently to the maximum wearing them out. The immune system is only one system which has become a victim of this. On a much deeper metabolic chemistry and organic structuralization level all the way down to stem cell, progenitor cell and promoter gene level they have exhausted and broken down these systems to the point that all that is left is secondary inefficient low energy/low order/low complexity auto logical response mechanisms to deal with stressors and adaptive challenges to the body, mind and spirit that end up making people sick. They have induced Chronic Fatigue Syndrome on their bodies.
Every functional system is going into hibernation to force repair and rebuilding and conservation of biological potential energy. The systems that cause storage, transport and utilization of potential energy are all shutting down making the availability and consistency of kinetic energy negligible. They are inducing ataxic conditions on their nervous systems and not only no longer have the energy to move, but the motivation and on the neurological level the complex glial cell energy provision, white and gray matter electrophoretic potential, ion gate phase locked energy activation for neuroreceptors, ABC (ATP binding cassette) energy dependent transport systems for cell protein transport and conjugation function on the endoplasmic reticulum and golgi complex level especially the SUR (sulfonylurea receptor) and terminal neuron conduction capacity in their brains. Total neurological and biological brownout. Contrary to popular thought the most powerful part of the brain is not the analytical prefrontal cortex but the cerebellum/motor cortex/spinal choroid systems of the motor activity capacity system. We did not get bigger brains to do physics but to move. Movement is the most complex thing we do.
Elite athletes are burning out in droves because they are not supplying the kind of micronutrient support to their bodies that are necessary for primary, secondary and tertiary metabolic functionality which means that the 200 dendrite perkunje cell neurons of the cerebellum which control all movement and with elite athletes other than musculoskeletal and metabolic efficiency is the most rate limiting step in complex movement algorithm actuation, does not have the energy it needs for activation. So most elite athletes have no baseline for their biochemical individuality and a solution model for optimal functional capacity upper limit load capacity. All of the current medical technology and even most sports nutrition is inadequate for determining this. They are given a false sense of security that they have the information they need to do this. Hydration is not enough. Due to the popularity of extreme sports, often because of sponsors like Red Bull, the average person is inducing exertion stresses on their body which would take a lifetime to adapt to and are putting their bodies into these hyper states of functionality demand in months. This is recipe for disaster. The adrenaline and endorphin high can only hide so much pain and destruction in the body that is being amortized for repair until a later date when it may be too late.
The response by these athletes is to suppress their ambivalences and then their psychological state just becomes another part of unhealthy perfectionist/myopic exceptionalism suppressive cycle until the body, mind and spirit can take no more and acts on its own behalf to save that person's life. People can be exceptional athletes and athleticism should be encouraged at high levels in general but the technology is not meeting the demand. This is not some hobby you can throw yourself into. This is a massive undertaking with significant negative consequences. Amateur elite athletes have to approach their sport with the technological rigor and vigor a cave diving scuba diver must. You just dont wing it. Most people get started at lower levels, feel the incredible improvement of biological and neurological functionality and just keep ramping up to extreme sports without taking the necessary adaptation steps on a biochemical level.
Most athletes I have worked with have much healthier habits than the general population. They realize if they want to achieve athletic success at this level they need to sacrifice but at some point they are exceeding their limits consistently. The first sign is performance loss as they are constantly exceeding the Yerkes-Dodson neuronal arousal and performance limits but this leads to eventual collapse of systemic functionality for which rest alone cannot cure. They need reconstitution of many biological systems on many levels and once healthy provided metrics for biological optimization that meet their athletic goals while staying healthy. Healthy and athletic are not necessarily conjunctive. Even back in the 80s there were object lessons in this area that people ignored as fitness became a craze when Jim Fixx pushed his body beyond his limits and paid the ultimate price. He was the first really public case of OTS. OTS is induced CFS. The good news is that with the right biochemical and neurological support, the elite athlete already has developed some really good neural algorithms and innate biochemical capacity for recovery and they can recover faster than the average person given the right support. The elite athlete has the advantage of many more and better metabolically based primary autological response capacities including a much wide diversity and availablity of proteins in the body that are necessary for functionality on every level from muscle movement to high levels of focused perception It is not just about overtraining. That is simplistic and moralizing. It is about under supporting physiology because most amateur and even professional athletes lack the financial and scientific resources to truly support their physiology and neurology at the level of vigor and rigor to do this kind of extreme sport participation in perpetuity. They are achieving short term results with significant negative long term consequences because their athletic sustainability model is inadequate in general and not specific to them and their needs.