Sports of all types are getting more competitive and tuned towards athleticism, and this is contributing to a nationwide trend towards sports injury. A three year study by the CDC found that there were 34.1 sports injuries per 1,000 population, or 8.9m total annually. Whilst this isn’t a problem in itself, it seems Americans have a problem with recovery. According to Delaware professor Airelle Hunter-Giordana in USA Today, this often comes down to refusing help, poor quality sleep, and, crucially, nutrition.
It sounds obvious but nutrition is absolutely key to your full recovery. Many enthusiasts will feel less encouraged to eat due to being laid up, concerned about weight gain. However, diet should be one of your first considerations when planning your recovery, and fine tuning your intake will help to produce a fast and smooth recovery.
The role of micronutrients
Nutrition can be broken down into two broad categories. Macronutrients concern your biggest food groups – carbs, fats and protein. Micronutrients concerns the vitamins, minerals, acids and so on that help the running of your complex internal systems. A 2015 study in the Open Access Journal of Sports Medicine outlined the importance of micronutrients when it found that vitamin D, nitrates and b-alanine aid recovery from injury and everyday activity.
Do your research into what your body needs, and be wary that you’re not receiving your nutrients in your day-to-day food – fruit contains a lot of vitamin C, for example. If you can identify areas of improvement, it’s worth it to invest in a jacked pack of micronutrients to aid your body, and you’ll be on your way to fine tuning your micro intake.
Assessing your protein requirements
It’s generally accepted that protein is necessary in higher levels for active people. This is because muscles and ligaments placed under strain will happily use up extra supplies for repair. Too much protein can be seriously problematic, however, and according to HealthLine protein buildup can lead to nephritis – kidney failure, in layman’s terms. It’s incredibly important, then, to drill down on your protein requirements.
First look at your exertion – if your sport or activity is mainly endurance based, you’ll need less than in, say, powerlifting. Secondly, work out your ratio; according to Team USA, 1.3-1.8g protein per kg is appropriate for most active people. If you are laid up with an injury, be wary over your protein intake as your body will use it less effectively than if you are exercising.
The role of carbohydrates
Carbohydrates frequently receive a bad rep as empty calories. When not packed on for use soon after in sports, they can lead to weight gain – however, during recovery, they are invaluable. Don’t default to white grains, however. According to Shape, during recovery you should keep up carb intake but switch to whole grains, organic fruit and vegetables.
This will help to reduce inflammation, a contributing factor to long periods out with injury, and will help to speed up your recovery. Whereas the likes of rice and pasta are invaluable for stamina pre-injury, it’s best to avoid them during recovery. Again, listen to your body.
Recovery from injury is often underestimated as a period of convalescence in which rest is king. Rest is very important, of course, but so is nutrition. Feeding your body the perfect ingredients to make a positive recovery from your injury is absolutely key to long-term vitality.
By Jess Walter