Ask Me Anything: Overtraining & Recovery with Dr. Leada Malek, DPT

Published on ‎07-30-2021 08:10 PM by Guide | Updated on ‎08-03-2021 09:31 AM

Join AthletaWell Physical Therapy Guide Dr. Leada Malek in an hour-long session to answer all your questions! Learn her tips on how not to overtrain, and recovery techniques. Take away great advice from a Physical Therapist so you can make the most out of your training and recovery days!



Wednesday August 18

12:00 - 1:00 pm PT / 3:00 - 4:00 pm ET



In the comments below!


Ask Leada anything about overtraining & recovery like:

- What is overtraining syndrome?

- How can I tell if I’m overdoing it?

- Is there a difference between a rest day and a recovery day?

- How can I still be productive on my “off” days?

- Is there times where I should actually take it easier with activity?

- What are the risks with overtraining?


How to participate:

Drop your all your comments and Q's in the comments below by 12pm PT / 3pm CT on Wed. August 18. Leada will be back on August 18 to reply to all your questions on the thread during this event time!



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Wed, Aug 18, 2021 12:00 PM PDT
Wed, Aug 18, 2021 01:00 PM PDT
Community Manager

If you’re sore after a workout, how many days should you wait before working out again? 

@asparling1986  I second that question! When do you push through vs taking a break? Will tune into the office hours.

Excellent questions @asparling1986 and @MollJ84! Delayed-onset muscle soreness (or DOMS) usually peaks at about 48-72 hours following exercise, usually something that is new or one with heavy eccentric components (that decelerating or down phase of a squat, for example). The changes in the muscle that come with this type of short-lived soreness are not permanent and are expected. But, because of this soreness and changes in the muscle matrix, performance can be impacted. SO, my tips for working around this:


-Short-duration static stretching with active warm-ups might help!

-Foam rolling when sore 2-3 sets of about 30 seconds

-Mobility as a warm up to get things moving slowly before another workout


And even better tips:

-Reduce intensity and duration for the 2 days following your DOMS-inducing workout

-Target less affected body parts to allow sore ones adequate recovery (getting to less sore is a good target)

-Introduce those newer, eccentric, heavy exercises should be introduced slowly and progressively - baby steps! Build a schedule! 

-Sharp pain, burning sensations, or inability to appropriately use a muscle >72 hours is a sign you should get checked by a PT or healthcare professional. 


If you experience extreme pain, soreness, or things like blood in the urine then that's a very serious medical emergency sometimes indicative of extreme breakdown of muscle (rhabdomyolysis). Get checked ASAP.  Hope this helps!!


What’s the best way to alleviate soreness? I’m a runner, so I’m pushing my body hard throughout the week and also taking rest days. However, I’m struggling to find the best ways to make the most out of my rest days so that I feel fully recovered for my next run. Any advice?

@Mayastrautman I have the perfect answer for you! After each run, do a 5-10 minute active cool-down (slower movements of what you just did, some leg movements/hip openers/lunges etc) then follow up with some foam rolling over your tight and worked spots. Finish up with static stretching if desired. That combo has been shown to reduced soreness and improve performance in the days following. Another tip I would suggest is mixing up your volume and intensity/run days. It may be wise to do a lighter/easier run in between two hard runs to not overdo it. Don't forget its about career longevity as much as it is about feeling good and reaching your goals 🙂 


How do I determine if I have tennis elbow or something else?  If my exercising is strength training (dumbbells), hiit, etc, what exercises should I avoid (not sure what over use caused it).

@Mrs96 Great question! I just gave some background in the comment above by @InMyDNA. Generally tennis elbow is characterized by pain on the outer side of the elbow, whereas golfer's elbow is on the inside. Your wrist extensors and flexors attach to each of these points, respectively. Overusing them either due to repetitive wrist work, or lacking shoulder and upper arm strength, can cause overworking the muscles and extra load onto the tendons, which can cause pain. My first tip would be to modify your weight, how hard your gripping, then focus on shoulder and scapular stability/strength with bringing in light forearm work. Of course, all of this is MUCH more likely to help after an assessment with a PT because it totally depends on the person and there is the risk of making things worse. But the safest, quickest tip would be to modify load, volume, or adjusting your hand grip with exercises (neutral seems to do better with painful elbows). Hope this helps!


I too feel like I have an overuse injury of my elbow where it almost is both tennis and golfers elbow. I do bootcamp three to four times a week with strength and cardio and a lot of the exercises are done each class in a different order. I’ve been decreasing the amount of dumbell weight used since fall of last year but it’s not getting better. Wondering if I need to take a break from this type of workout, if so for how long, and/or if it’s time to see a doctor?? 

@InMyDNA This is super common! Tennis and golfer's elbow have to do with the forearm muscles, specifically the wrist extensors & flexors, respectively.  Gripping things too aggressively and frequently can set off an overuse injury and these two tendinous areas can be especially stubborn.. so if it hasn't resolved, I'd highly recommend getting a structured plan from a PT and if that doesn't work checking in with an orthopedist. But there are certain things to take a look at to see if these can help: Less intense gripping, wearing an open hand brace for nighttime if you wake up with pain in the AM, and making sure your shoulder/rotator cuff/scapular strength are doing what they need to with your workouts to avoid excess load on wrist/elbow is key. Sometimes it's part of a bigger picture. I would recommend decreasing your frequency to maybe 1-2x/week to give it some time to breathe, mixing in some rehab exercises, but also seeing a PT too to help pick the right volume of rehab exercises. This should help!!


I'm trying to build muscle in my quads (one leg/quad is smaller than the other due to an injury). How often do I work my legs without overdoing it? I always seem to do too much b/c I'm impatient to make both legs equal. And then I have to rest due to soreness in my knee that feels more tendon-related than muscle. It's been a vicious cycle of on again off again and I can't seem to find the right balance of not overdoing it, but making progress. Any advice? I'm in my 40s and active/athletic/competitive.

@MichMom2 I'm so glad you asked this. This is such a common cycle many deal with! To see some change in the muscle, you want to aim for 3 sets of 6-12 reps (this is general). The main point is to load it heavy enough that you feel its successful and challenging, but you're not compromising form. I'd aim to feel pretty worked by the 8th rep and play by ear from there. Now, with tendon pain - it's a different story. Tendons need load to adapt, but overloading and achy tendon will cause it to light up more. Tendons have a "latency effect" which means they may not show their true reaction until the next morning or later in the day if not DURING the exercise. If you feel discomfort and it lasts - that was too much for it to handle. A little bit during activity that dissipates its fine, but lasting pain is a cause for modification. So try adjusting your load to help avoid lasting discomfort and things should stick for longer! Seeing a PT can definitely help with this too 🙂


If you have overtrained for an extended period of time, how long does it take your body to reset? Does overexercise require a prolonged period of little to no formal movement? 

This is a great question, what it requires it really does depend on the individual. General recovery for the healthy person can on average up to 72 hours for sorenss, etc to feel better. BUT with severe overtraining, there are many signs that your body will let you know it's either ready or not *if things have been on track lately.* I say this because sometimes the signs that tell you the body is ready for more or not can become dysregulated. So it/s more of evaluating a cluster of measurement points that let us know. These include appetite, sleep, general energy levels, heart rate and vital signs, and muscle function to name a few!


Hi Dr. Malek - thanks so much for hosting this AMA. I have a question that isn't about overworking my muscles, but I don't have a physical therapist so I hope it's okay if I ask it here! My question is I constantly have hip flexor pain, especially when I'm in the car for over 20 mins, do you have any suggestions for exercises that can mitigate that pain?

Hi @lauren! Of course you can ask here! 🙂 It's a little tricky to know why there is hip flexor pain to begin with so a proper assessment can help with that. However, I would encourage you to take a look at your chair/seating posture. Sometimes "un-bucketing" the chair can help reduce pressure on the back and hips if they're sensitive for you. So raising it, filling the lumbar area with a small cushion or if the car comes with lumbar support, and getting closer to the pedals so you don't have to reach for the gas. This alone may help with origins of pain from back, hips, or sciatic nerve. Hope this was helpful!!


If I’m feeling really sore 1-2 days after, should I still work those muscles?

That's very typical! I would opt for a lighter load and intensity to those muscles - basically just move. If you did heavy squats, then you can do a round of bodyweight ones or lunges just to get some blood flow. Instead of pushing through a harder load to the same muscle group, try opting to target a less sore muscle group while the sore one gets a chance to recover. It's not necessarily "bad," but not allowing adequate recovery can be taxing and there are better ways to go about it 🙂 


Thank you all for your questions! I'm so happy I was able to help with this. I post LOTS of content on my Instagram page and will be sharing with Athletawell, too, but you can find me on there @ drmalekpt. It was a pleasure! Feel free to drop any questions if you missed them and I will get to them as I am able 🙂 

Thank you!!