Updated: Feb 2, 2020
All too often when athletes or the general population suffer an injury the common cure is to rest and ice the area. The ice part is a whole other topic that I will not dive into at the moment but what I would like to discuss is the strategies we can use to help with the recovery process after an injury occurs. Now, if we take into consideration the fact that we utilize nutritional strategies to help the process of building muscle or recovering from a marathon or wrestling a gorilla then we can say that nutrition plays a vital role in how our body recovers from intentional exercise induced damage to our tissues. So why do we not value the same principles when it comes to injury? Often times we hear that athletes are more concerned about not loosing muscle mass or not gaining body fat so they eat less then normal since their activity levels have declined. Well what about implementing nutritional strategies to speed up the process of repairing the injury(s) along with understanding that we will need to consume less to maintain body composition attributes?
Stages of Injury
Here we go! The following information is based on an understanding of what stages the body goes through when an injury occurs.
Stage 1: Inflammation - Here we have a commonly known outcome which is when the injured area begins to swell up, we have pain, and the area tends to feel hot. This is actually a good thing for the body to repair itself since these indicators mean that healing chemicals necessary for repair are being drawn to the affected area.
Stage 2: Proliferation - In this stage the body starts to remove any toxins and damaged tissues from the area. New blood is then supplied and the first set of repaired tissue is built.
Stage 3: Remodeling - A stronger tissue replaces the stage two temporary tissue in the area.
Nutrition and Supplementation For Recovery
Within these 3 stages we can implement nutritional strategies that help our body with the recovery process. The foods we choose to eat within each stage varies slightly and the amount that we have also plays a role. Let’s begin with the inflammation stage. In this stage foods that are anti-inflammatory such as healthy fats like mixed nuts, avocado, olive oil, and fish oil can all help with the inflammation build up. Other inflammation managing foods that can help are turmeric/curry powder, garlic, berries, cocoa, green tea, and my personal favorite pineapple. In the last two stages we do need to consider that fact that our metabolism is on a comeback and we will need to eat more normally but just not quite to full scale since our activity levels are still lower than normal. Here we need to consume the healthy choices of protein, fats, and carbs. Lean meats for protein, a balanced fat intake(blend of saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated), and minimally processed carbs do the trick. What about supplements you ask? Well in the first 2-4 weeks these supplements have been shown to improve the recovery process: vitamin a, vitamin c, copper, zinc, glutamine, arginine, and BCAA’s(Branched Chain Amino Acids) all help in the recovery process.
Prioritize Your Nutrition
When it comes to injuries and how we can implement nutrition to speed up the recovery process I feel that the everyday habits and strategies we already have in place can only help to ease the PAIN of change/injury. Prioritize your nutrition and continue to learn how to improve your performance.
For more information please feel free to send me your questions via email at
firstname.lastname@example.org. Also pictures were provided by content located on Precision Nutrition where you can go to get a complete infographic of these topics.
"The right food and supplements can speed up injury recovery. This is important - but often ignored." - John Berardi
References: Nutrition for Injury Recovery: Part 1. (2017, March 14). Retrieved May 29, 2017, from http://www.precisionnutrition.com/nutrition-for-injury-part-1 Healing & Health Through Amino Acids! (n.d.). Retrieved May 29, 2017, from http://www.drramsey.com/healing-health-amino-acids/