Guest Blog Post: Jess Walter
Each year, two million injuries occur among high school athletes, amounting to half a million hospital visits. This number is increasing due to an increased interest in sport among the youth. While many are aware of how good nutrition improves general physical health, many young people may not realize that the right foods can help sports injuries to heal more quickly through the prevention of inflammation. If you take your sport seriously, then increase your intake of the following nutrients to help manage injury.
Many athletes have a high protein intake already as they attempt to increase muscle mass, but did you know that this supplement can also help with injuries? This is because a serious injury will often result in immobilization. While rest is important to allow the injury to heal, it can have negative side effects. The lack of exercise on this muscle will cause it to weaken, meaning it is more susceptible to injury in future.
Minimize this muscle loss by eating a protein heavy diet while injured. The best options are seafood, skinless chicken, eggs and beans. Try and have a protein rich breakfast to allow the muscle to grow throughout the day. If you stick to this diet, you’ll be strong as ever after recovery and will be less likely to pull a muscle in future.
Calcium is key to good bone health, so if you have fractured or broken anything, consider upping your calcium intake. It can also help with muscle pain, so is a great treatment for sports-related hernias. A high calcium diet is important at all times, but for recovering from an injury it is incredibly important.
Heavy doses of calcium are contained in cheese and yogurt. However, if you’re a vegan or otherwise looking to cut down on dairy, then there are plenty of alternatives. A can of sardines contains over a third of your recommended daily intake. You can also increase your consumption of beans, lentils, broccoli and almonds. It is important to remember that calcium can’t be properly absorbed without vitamin D. If you live somewhere which doesn’t get much sun, consider taking vitamin D supplements when injured to aid recovery.
The role of vitamin C in physical health is so important. This is because it produces a protein called collagen, which helps to maintain healthy bones, skin, muscles and tendons. This will reduce inflammation and help to rebuild damaged tissues. Deliciously sweet fruit such as oranges, mangoes and papayas have the highest concentrations of vitamin C, but it can also be found in broccoli, tomatoes and leafy greens.
Recovering from an injury is an arduous experience for any athlete. However, there’s no need to just and sit and wait for it to get better. You may not be so active on the sports field, but you can become active in the kitchen. Prepare meals that are densely packed with protein, calcium and vitamin C. You’ll find yourself recovering in no time and you’ll return to action with strengthened bones and muscles.