Adequate fuelling is essential to ensure optimum training and performance for any athlete, or person in general. This can also be said for ensuring a timely recovery from injury or illness. Post-injury nutrition is an important part of the healing process and will complete a good rehabilitation program.
After an injury, our body has an increased nutrient requirement to help the healing process, however given the reduction in activity/training load and therefore energy requirements, most people will reduce their dietary intake and may even lower the quality of the food they consume. One goal during this important recovery period is to prevent, or at least reduce the likelihood of, the loss of lean body mass. Intake of adequate protein that is spread evenly across the day can help with this. This can be from foods such as beef, chicken, egg, legumes or beans.
During rehabilitation it is important to take in required amounts of vitamins and minerals which play a role in boosting our immune system, assisting in collagen formation (important for healing of muscles, tendons and ligaments) and contributing to bony healing. An easy way to do this is to include fresh fruits and vegetables regularly as part of your diet.
Carbohydrates and fats are other important nutrients to consider during recovery. Wholegrain carbohydrates such as oats, brown rice or wholegrain pasta will be higher in fibre which helps with our hunger levels. Omega-3 fats play an important role in mediating the inflammatory process and can be found in foods such as salmon, chia seeds and walnuts.
It is also important to monitor consumption of sugars, fried fatty foods and alcohol during this time as these foods can affect the inflammatory process and reduce our body’s ability to synthesise protein and adequately repair tissue.
For specific information regarding dietary intake and performance talk to your physiotherapist, exercise physiologist or contact your local sports dietician.