nutrition bite #017 - nutrition for injuries


Injuries are unfortunately part-and-parcel of sport and life. We can do everything in our power to reduce their chances of happening, however when we're continually pushing the envelope to improve ourselves, sometimes they occur. And when they do, nutrition plays a vital role in ensuring the recovery process is quick & smooth, allowing for you to get back on the field or court as quick as possible

Nobody likes being injured. I remember tearing my right hamstring back at the age of 15 and being out for 5 weeks, I hated it. The benches and sidelines were my biggest nightmares and yet, this was my new home for 5 weeks. And had I known back then how vital nutrition was in my recovery, I would have adopted some of these principles to have made the recovery process that much smoother & quicker so that I could have got back to doing what I loved in a shorter timespan
 

Injuries: What's Happening Inside The Body?

After undergoing an injury or 'damage', the body will go through three different stages to heal the body and get it back into tip-top condition. These process, in order, include:

1. Inflammation: the process whereby the body will draw chemical mediators (i.e. histamine) into the area to help begin with recovery. During this time there will often be swelling, redness, pain, and heat

2. Proliferation: the damaged tissues are removed in this stage and new blood supply helps to build 'temporary' and new tissue

3. Remodelling: a stronger, more permanent tissue replaces the temporary tissue from the proliferation stage, and we are generally good to begin playing again
 

The Issue

Is inflammation... It's vital to the recovery process, but too much inflammation will cause additional damage, thus slowing down your recovery as a whole - meaning you spend more time than required on the sidelines...
 

The Solution = Your Diet

You have the ability to manipulate the levels of inflammation occurring within your body through your diet & the foods you eat. Consuming more anti-inflammatory foods within this period will aid in decreasing inflammation in the body. These foods include those high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, including the following:

  • Olive Oil

  • Avocado

  • Fish Oil

  • Flax Seeds & Oil

  • Fatty Fish (i.e. Salmon, Mackeral, Sardines)

  • Mixed Nuts & Mixed Seeds

There are also a few spices, condiments, and flavour enhancers that have anti-inflammatory effects that you may wish to use - including curcumin (from turmeric), garlic, bromelain (found in pineapples), and some berries and teas

You will also want to decrease your intake of pro-inflammatory foods slightly, which include foods that have been highly processed, contain higher amounts of saturated and trans fats, and vegetable oils like corn oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil, and soybean oil


The Big Takeaways

The body is trying to recover, repair, and rebuild - and for this to occur it will need an excess of nutrients and calories. It will not need as many as required during periods of heavy training however. So, during times of injury recovery, needs are higher than a sedentary nature, but not as high as whilst during training and competing

Be sure to get adequate protein in, as this aids in the recovery and repair of tissues, include a diverse range of fruits and vegetables to ensure you're getting in a variety of essential vitamins and minerals, and keep up your carbohydrate intake - just know it won't be as high as if you were training. And make sure to drink lots of water, get lots of rest, and don't do anything stupid that will have you out of your sport for a longer time period

Nick Maier