Injuries are an unavoidable part of being active. The physical damage caused by training is the same as any other trauma where there is damage; there are nutritional needs that must be met.
The Healing Process
Protein plays a major role in tissue regeneration and repair.* Minor injuries might not require additional protein, but major surgery can increase protein needs by 10 percent. General recommendations for protein are between 0.8 and 1.2 grams per kilogram of body weight, but major surgery can push the need up to 2.0 grams per kilogram. For someone weighing around 155 lbs (70 kg) normal protein needs would range from 56-84 grams with a recovery need up to 140 grams of protein.
Those who experience an injury can often meet their additional protein needs though dietary changes. Many people add whey protein isolate or a vegan protein option to help support their diet.*
Inflammation is a necessary part of injury recovery triggered by the body’s need to clear dead and dying cells and to start the process of new cell development.
Research has shown that consuming 2-3 grams of omega 3s daily can positively influence markers of inflammation in the body.* The average person can consume this amount through a diet containing two servings of fish per week combined with increased intake of nuts, seeds, avocado, olive oil, chia, and flax seeds–or through the addition of a fish oil supplement.
Bromelain, an enzyme found in pineapple, has been shown to promote reduced swelling and bruising after surgery.* Bromelain is recommended in amounts between 150 and 500 milligrams per day. Bromelain is most abundant in the stems, leading many people to add a bromelain supplement to their diet.
Curcumin, the active ingredient in the spice turmeric, has been used as a medicinal food for thousands of years. Research has shown that supplementation of 500 milligrams twice daily can promote reduced swelling and tenderness.*
Repairing the Damage
Many vitamins and minerals are needed to support repair and recovery;* Vitamins A and C help support a normal inflammatory response and assist in the formation of collagen, which helps provide the structure of tendons, ligaments, and skin.*
Vitamin A is linked with a decrease in immune suppression normally seen after an injury.* Vitamin C deficiency can lead to a decreased stability of tissues and abnormal scar formation.* Zinc plays a role in new DNA creation and the ability of cells to multiply and protein formation.* Zinc deficiency can limit wound healing.*
Recovering athletes might consider a multi-vitamin containing vitamin A, vitamin C, and zinc during the initial wound healing phase.
Arginine can increase nitric oxide production, which can improve blood flow to damaged areas, providing important nutrients and promoting removal of dead and damaged cells.* Understanding what is happening in your body after an injury can help ensure that your diet supports a full recovery and help you get back to the gym.
* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.