INTRODUCTION: Soldiers are exposed to extreme training regimens in order to optimally prepare for real battle. High attrition rates are a known issue during training courses, especially for elite troops. An underlying factor might be the disbalance between stress/strain and recovery. The aim of this review is to give insight in the current knowledge about functional overreaching (FOR), non-FOR (NFOR), and the overtraining syndrome (OTS) in the military.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: A systematic literature review was conducted. PubMed, IngentaConnect, Science Direct, and Web of Science were screened for the following keywords and combinations of search terms; military, personnel, OT, soldier.
RESULTS: Seven studies investigating the effects of OT during training courses were selected. The definitions used for OT varied widely and there is no systematic use of markers to determine FOR, NFOR, or the OTS in the military.
CONCLUSIONS: Much research on NFOR/OTS has been conducted in the sports domain and the military could make use of these insights to promote a more efficient balance between training load and recovery. It is suggested to regularly test soldiers on physical performance, psychomotor speed and mood using ideally a military-specific test or the 1.5-mile run, psychomotor vigilance test and Profile of Mood States. The two-bout exercise test can be used as a specific test if previous testing indicates the development of NFOR/OTS and can be combined with metabolic and immunological testing to exclude pathological causes.