Getting hurt doing something you love sucks. What’s even worse is when it keeps you away from doing what you love for an extended time while you recover. Nutrition is a simple, yet often overlooked, tool that can supplement your treatment plan for optimized recovery.
After obtaining an injury of any degree, athletes often discuss symptoms with a coach, doctor, or physical therapist to define a treatment plan, modifications, and rehabilitation. However, what is often lacking throughout the treatment process is an understanding of how focused nutrition can impact your body’s ability to heal and recover from the physical and emotional stress of an injury.
Comprehensive Treatment Includes Nutrition Coaching
While some injuries are minor, others can leave you sidelined for quite some time. Regardless of the severity of the injury, having a nutrition plan in place can help you stay on track with your goals and keep you primed to return to action once you are medically cleared.
At Graham Strength & Conditioning we work closely with our athletes, both healthy and injured, to help them develop simple strategies that take the guesswork out of nutrition. Many of the strategies listed below are standard nutrition practices that can be followed to support a healthy lifestyle and aid in injury prevention.
To optimize your recovery process following a sports injury, try these simple nutrition strategies:
- Continued fueling. Depending on the severity of your injury, pain levels, scheduled appointments, and changes to training frequency, it can be challenging to find the time or motivation to meal prep and maintain your typical eating habits. Keeping your body well-fed with quality food choices will ensure all restorative processes work efficiently. Regularly eating fruits and vegetables that are rich in antioxidants can help control inflammation.
- Combat Anabolic Resistance. Immobilization decreases the body’s ability to build and maintain muscle mass. Researchers have found that increasing protein intake to about 1.6-2.5 grams per kilogram of body weight per day while injured can improve skeletal muscle mass retention and accelerate healing. Lean proteins or quality protein supplements are the easiest and most effective way to increase daily protein amounts.
- Ditch Alcohol. Alcohol has been shown to decrease the body’s ability to repair muscles, especially when immobilized, and contributes significantly to inflammation. Lowering or eliminating alcohol intake while injured can allow your body to spend its energy repairing tissues rather than trying to resolve toxins.
- Hydrate. Water helps circulate nutrients and oxygen throughout the body. Drinking plenty of water following an injury and throughout treatment can aid cells in carrying much-needed nutrients to the affected area of the body.
- Supplement with Electrolytes. Electrolytes are naturally occurring minerals such as calcium, sodium, and magnesium, that are found in the healthy foods we eat. It can be beneficial to supplement your diet with these micronutrients throughout the day as they aid in muscle repair and recovery, bone and joint health, support nerve conduction, and promote healing.
- Take a Fish Oil Supplement. Fish oil is a natural fat supplement shown to decrease inflammation, aid in the transport of nutrients, as well as help support blood flow. The GSC Nutrition team recommends Advocare Omegaplex to complement a healthy diet for both healthy and injured athletes.
- Sleep. Proper rest is essential for a quick recovery. During the “deep sleep” phase blood flow increases and growth hormone is released into the body. Both of which boost the recovery of muscles and other tissues. Insufficient sleep may delay the healing process but increasing your daily sleep can promote faster healing.
- Check your Emotions. Injury can disrupt your routine, goals, and lifestyle, often leading to an emotional slump. Not only does eating well help your body recover physically, but it also helps your body better balance hormones that drastically impact mental wellness as well as how your body handles stress.
Not Injured? Why You Should Care
Proper nutrition is essential to athletic performance. Even if you are not hurt, providing your body with optimal nutrition and regular exercise can help you remain injury-free. If you do become injured at any time, implementing these simple strategies can optimize your recovery and a full return to athletics.
If you are struggling to balance how much and what to eat while healing, contact the team of experienced nutrition coaches at Graham Strength & Conditioning to help you personalize a plan for success.