Injuries are frustrating. No athlete wants to be told they can’t compete, or that they have to sit out for weeks. At Arlington Pain and Rehab Clarendon, we understand that frustration, which is why our top priority is getting you healthy! Our chiropractors are experts at treating sports injuries. From adjustments and manual therapies to rehabilitation exercises, everything we do is aimed at getting you back to your full potential and ensuring you have the tools necessary to remain strong and injury-free. While our focus is on helping your body heal, it’s important that you play your part as well. That’s where nutrition comes in.
What you put into your body is just as important as the treatments we provide, and can even make our treatments more effective. That’s why we’ve teamed up with the experts at Roots Reboot to help you heal faster and stronger.
So, how does the body respond to injury, and how can nutrition help with your recovery? An injury and the subsequent recovery can be broken down into 3 stages or phases: inflammation, proliferation, and remodeling. The primary goal of the inflammatory phase is to clear out damaged tissue and debris, and set the stage for the proliferation phase. During this phase (proliferation) the body begins to lay down scar tissue to return some normalcy and function to the injured tissue. Unfortunately, the tissue formed during this stage is not particularly strong. The last stage – remodeling – occurs when the body lays down collagen to replace the weaker scar tissue formed during the proliferation phase.
During each of the phases of healing, your body requires the raw materials and energy to properly repair itself. By providing these materials in the form of proper nutrition, you help to optimize your body’s injury response. This allows you to not only heal faster, but also stronger!
So, what can you do? Here are some helpful tips from the experts at Roots Reboot.
Eating to Reduce Inflammation:
– Let fruits and vegetables make up at least half your plate at meals. Take care to regularly fit in fresh, frozen or dried berries and cherries. Be sure to eat a variety of vegetables, including leafy greens such as kale, chard and Brussels sprouts.
– Opt for plant-based sources of protein including beans, nuts and seeds.
– Choose whole grains instead of refined ones. Give up white rice and replace it with brown, black or wild rice; whole oats or barley for cream of wheat; and whole-wheat bread instead of white.
– Pick heart-healthy fats: Olive oil, avocados, nuts and seeds are a few delicious choices.
– Choose fatty fish such as salmon, sardines and anchovies to get a heart-healthy dose of omega-3 fatty acids with high quality protein
Foods for injury / surgery recovery:
Focusing on minimally processed, high quality protein foods that contain all of the essential amino acids aid in recovery, wound healing and keep your immune system strong. Eggs, low-fat cheese or cottage cheese, greek yogurt, beans and legumes, all provide quality protein and are usually well-tolerated in the early days after injury or surgery. Vegetarians can get quality protein from soy-based foods. Protein is not just for muscle building; it is a key nutrient in bone building. So, if you have a fracture, make sure to include protein with every meal and snack.
Vitamin C and Zinc
While all nutrients are important in healing, vitamin C and zinc are superstars for their roles in healing. Vitamin C is needed to make a protein called collagen and is needed for repairing tendons, ligaments and healing surgical wounds. Citrus fruits are high in vitamin C; however, don’t overlook other sources of vitamin C, such as strawberries, kiwi fruit, baked potatoes, broccoli and bell peppers. Zinc is a mineral found mostly in animal foods — meat, fish, poultry and dairy foods — but it is also present in whole-grain breads and cereals, dried beans and peas (legumes) and nuts. Get zinc from foods rather than supplements, especially because high-dose zinc supplements can cause nausea and vomiting.
Vitamin D and Calcium
Calcium and vitamin D are nutrients associated with healthy bones. So, if you have a stress fracture, make sure to get plenty of these two nutrients to strengthen your bones. The best sources of these nutrients are low-fat dairy foods. All milk is fortified with vitamin D to help absorb calcium. Yogurt, also a good source of calcium, is not always fortified with vitamin D so check the nutrition label of your favorite yogurt to make sure you are getting vitamin D.
It’s important to note that calorie intake is critical during your recovery period. While some diets restrict calories or incorporate intermittent fasting, this can be detrimental to your recovery process. If you are recovering from an injury, this is not the time to start a low-carb diet such as the slow-carb intermittent fasting diet. However, using the guidelines above (selecting whole grains, heart healthy fats, plant-based protein sources, and increasing fruit and vegetable intake), you can fast track your recovery and put yourself on the path for a healthier lifestyle.
The chiropractors at Arlington Pain and Rehab Clarendon, and the nutrition experts at Roots Reboots are here to help you get back on your feet. If you are interested in an individualized nutrition plan, you can visit Roots Reboot. You can also consult one of our treating physicians for any specific injuries or questions. We’d love to help you get back to your best!
Berardi, J. (2012). Nutrition for injury recovery.
NCAA. Nutrition and the injured athlete.
McMahon, I. (Dec 16, 2015). Using nutrition to better recover from injury. http://running.competitor.com/2015/12/nutrition/using-nutrition-to-recover-better-from-injury_141781
Harvard Health (October 26, 2015). Foods that fight inflammation.