Dealing with fatigue as an athlete
Fatigue is more than just tiredness or feeling sleepy.
It is a condition that can significantly impact and alter one’s mental, physical, and emotional state and affect your ability to not only perform day-to-day tasks but the ability to function optimally and safely.
Due to the nature of elite sport and training, over-exertion is a real risk that can often be combatted with sufficient awareness and management techniques.
What causes fatigue?
There is a myriad of causes that can be linked to medical conditions, lifestyle, the workplace, and other stressors. Some of these factors may include:
- Sleep habits – too little or too much
- Sleep disturbances
- Poor nutrition
- Iron deficiency
- Alcohol and drug use
- Insufficient stress management
- Mental health conditions
- Medical conditions
What are the symptoms of fatigue?
The condition presents itself differently in each individual and isn’t always easy to detect. Some things to be on the lookout for include:
- Exhaustion even after sleep
- Impact on athletic performance
- Poor hand-eye coordination
- Slowed cognition
- Inability to focus
- Reduced appetite
- Sudden weight loss
- Sleep disturbance
- Lack of interest in daily activities and training
How can fatigue be diagnosed?
While diagnosis can pose a challenge, there is a selection of ways that a diagnosis can be achieved. The methods your doctor may employ include:
- Physical examination
- Heart rate variability
- Assessment of diet and lifestyle
- Stress factors
- Wellness questionnaire
- Saliva measurement
- Urine testing
- Medical imaging
How is fatigue treated?
For most individuals their fatigue will improve over time on its own or with some simple lifestyle changes.
However engaging with medical professionals can prove beneficial in enhancing training, performance, and quality of day-to-day life. By working with your doctor and allied health professionals, a treatment plan to combat the condition can often be established.
If you are concerned, we encourage you to speak to your doctor and get started with effective management strategies.