Injury + Good Nutrition = Faster Recovery

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Good Nutrition can aid when Fighting through an Injury

Just about a year ago, my youngest daughter broke her clavicle while playing with friends.  She was out of the game for about 2 months and soccer season had just started.  As a mom, it hurt me deeply to watch her go through all that pain but agonizing for her to deal with it and watch her team play without her.  One thing that was important to both of us was to keep her mind OFF of the injury, watch what she ate and recover quickly. 

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We did everything the doctor recommended and more!  She rested and kept her sling on for nearly EVERYTHING.  I carried her books to school for her and found ways for her to get around with one arm and still be independent of "nerdy" mom.  I made sure that she continued to eat healthy meals that included plenty of "green" vegetables and lots of fruit.  Her injury took 6 weeks to heal instead of 10 and of course, I kept her from playing soccer for 8.  Again, she wasn't happy but I was.  She got better faster!

When injured, whether you are an athlete or not, you have to continue to feed the body with the right nutrients to help aid in rebuilding tissue, bone and tendons effectively.  It's easy to fall into a slump because you are injured but recovering doesn't have to be a downfall.  It can be a time for you to refocus on what you are putting in the body and how you take care of it.  

Here is a quick list of best practices for an injured Workout Warrior and what you should eat:

  • Eat frequently. Eat every three hours, give or take and control your portions.  Even though you are injured remind yourself that you are an athlete and you will get better.  Stick to your program.
  • Doctor's orders.  Doctor's do know best and their degree is not from a Google search.  So, listen to what they are telling you and do it.  If you are a regular patient, he/she will know that you are an athlete itching to get back into the game.  Your doc will take that into consideration and suggest how you can stay busy.
  •  Protein.   Proteins aid in supporting the structure of our body, bodily movement and defend against germs. It is important for Men obtain 2 palm-sized portions of protein and Women_ 1 palm-sized portion of lean protein per meal. Choose meats, dairy, eggs, beans, vegetarian proteins, or supplements.
  • Vegetables.  Vegetables are a vital source of vitamins, minerals and fiber that support a healthy body and help to combat stress to the body.  Again, Men should take 2 fist-sized portions; Women: 1 fist-sized portion per meal. Choose any vegetable or fruit you like, but focus more on veggies.
  • Starches.   Starches are a complex carbohydrate and can take on various steps during the digestive process.  Starches break down into glucose and is the main source of fuel for all cells and provides energy.  Men should have 2 golf ball-sized portions and Women, 1 golf ball-sized portion of minimally processed carbs with each meal. Minimally processed sources like whole oats, whole grain rice, sprouted grain breads, and quinoa are best.
  • Fats.   Fats, the good fats like triglycerides, cholesterol and other essential fatty acids store energy, insulate us and protect our vital organs.  Good fats help protein do their jobs.  Men obtain 2 thumb-sized portions and Women should have 1 thumb-sized portion per meal. Choose avocado, olive oil, mixed nuts, or flax seeds with each meal. Add 3-9g of fish oil to the diet. Cut back on corn oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil, cottonseed oil, soybean oil, and highly processed, packaged foods. 

If you are willing to put these nutritional strategies to work, you will see faster recovery, complete healing and less injury recurrence.  John Berardi, nutrition expert

Most importantly,  if you are do become injured mentally stay positive.  Remember that recovering from an injury is just as important as your workout/training.  Stay mindful that you are an athlete. . .even if you are someone who takes a simple yoga class twice a week, you are doing something that challenges your body.  Keep moving, stay safe and try not to get injured! -Nic

Nicol A Hodges

Nicol A. Hodges aka "Nic" is fitness professional (NASM, CPT/PES) and product designer living in San Diego, CA. Nicol's athletic background started in her hometown of St. Charles, MO where she earned her 400m state ranking 3 years in a row. Later, at the University of MO, Columbia she earned 8-Big 12 Track and Field titles and a championship title. Nicol currently continues her love for running by competing in local and national running events.