PT on the Net Research

Overtrained Teen Athletes


Question:

I have a 13-year-old male that I have been training for over the last year or so. He is a semi-pro motor cross rider. I work with him out of his home, and during off season, I meet with him two times per week. During the season, he is always tired due to racing from Thursday through Sunday. His father wants me to work with him still on Mondays and Wednesdays. I have tired to explain that he needs recovery days and that we should train hard in his off season. Do you have any suggestions on how to handle this situation? I thought active rest one or two times per week - am I on the right track? Thanks so much for your time.

Answer:

In my opinion, you're on the right track. First, I suggest you read the three articles below so that you'll have a good basic understanding of how damaging and counterproductive too much sympathetic stress can be to the body. You may also want to print them off and have your client and his father read them.

Perhaps the problem in part is actually the boy's father. You've stated what the boy's father wants - has anyone bothered to ask your client what he wants? Your client is only 13 years old and is already exhausted, experiencing utter fatigue during a time that is supposed to be filled with learning and fun. I don’t mean to sound judgmental in any way, yet the question remains. If you can find a way to tactfully accomplish this "intervention" of sorts, it may be worth a try. We've all seen the overzealous parent(s) living vicariously through the athletically gifted (or not so much) child. Enthusiastic parental support is an awesome thing, but too much can result in a less than inspiring scenario.

If it is determined that the boy must train due to his father's influence, than simply use the time in your sessions together to do what you have instinctually picked up on: allow him to rest (i.e., stretching/flexibility, deep breathing/meditation, parasympathetic stimulators/exercises for increased energy and vitality) and perhaps do some light core work and/or yoga, massage therapy, etc.

As always, I'll recommend you read the book How to Eat, Move & Be Healthy! by Paul Chek. This book will guide you and your client through a complete series of physiological load/stress assessments, parasympathetic/corrective/performance exercises, as well as metabolic typing nutritional strategies, from which you can build a lifestyle management program that will generate the most benefit(s).

I sincerely wish you and your client many blessings.