As an athlete, it’s in your job description to push your body to its very limit. Unfortunately, the nature of the human anatomy is such that sports injuries are bound to happen. Whether it is a torn ligament or a broken bone, you can’t stay injury-free forever.
But that’s not the hardest part. When you are out injured, you’re itching to get back in the game. You don’t give your body the attention it needs to heal.
Ask yourself – would it be better to take your time and return in top physical condition? Or would you rather jump the gun and risk injuring yourself again?
You have to remember that if you aggravate an existing injury, chances are that you could be laid up for a long time. Is all the pain and agony worth it?
The good news is that there are plenty of foods and supplements that can help speed up recovery. Let’s take a look at some them:
- Protect Muscle Wear with a Protein-Rich Diet
Most of us already know that protein is a vital component of an athlete’s diet. It is the key nutrient responsible for muscle generation and growth.
The problem with injuries, especially muscle related injuries is that more often than not your damaged muscle is put out of commission while you recover. Muscle mass and strength suffers.
Your best bet to minimize this is by increasing your protein intake in the form of either protein-rich foods or supplements. What you want are complete proteins containing all the essential amino acids. Meat, fish and lentils are all great natural sources.
Supplements are a sound bet too since many of them offer a number of other nutritional benefits that aid recovery. For instance, whey protein has a complete amino acid profile. It also has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties which have a part to play in rebuilding tissue.
- Keep Inflammation in Check with Good Fats
You know the pain and irritation you feel when you’re injured? This is usually because of inflammation in and around the damaged tissue.
Not only is the niggling pain bothersome, but persistent inflammation can slow down your recovery process too.
A diet high in fiber and healthy fats like omega-3 fatty acids can take care of the issue. Include foods like fish and nuts in your diet for natural healthy fats. Omega-3 supplements work like a charm. Other supplements like curcumin, resveratrol and alpa-lipoic acid are known to possess anti-inflammatory properties too.
- Zinc Boosts the Body’s Healing Power
Zinc is perhaps one of the most important and under-rated minerals required by an injured athlete to aid recovery. It is a vital part of your body’s immune system, and a key component of the enzymes that are responsible for healing and tissue regeneration.
Research has proven that even a slight increase in zinc intake can speed up recovery times substantially. For any recovering athlete, this should be a priority.
There are plenty of naturally occurring foods with zinc content. Red meat, brown rice, fish and whole grains are all good sources. If you feel that you can’t get enough zinc through natural means, zinc supplements are also widely available.
But it’s a double-edged sword. Too much zinc in the system will deplete its copper resources. So you don’t want to overdo it.
- Keep Your Bones Strong With Calcium and Vitamin D
Calcium and vitamin D go hand-in-hand as far as recovery from sports injuries goes. While calcium is the foundation of bones and teeth and essential for their strength, vitamin D makes sure that this calcium is properly absorbed by the body. Another lesser known fact about calcium is that it has a role to play in muscle movement as well.
One of your biggest priorities during recovery should be to make sure that you consume enough calcium, and by extension vitamin D. Foods rich in calcium include dairy, green vegetables, broccoli, kale, bok choy, etc.
Your body can make vitamin D from sunlight organically, so you don’t have to worry about its intake. If you have a deficiency, supplements are readily available.
- Boost Collagen Synthesis Through Vitamin C
Every heard your doctor tell you take more vitamin C when you fall ill? That’s because vitamin C enhances the immune system. It is a strong antioxidant that gives your body the strength to recover from injuries faster.
Vitamin C plays a central role in collagen production. Collagen is the basis of all tissue and muscles. It makes the fibers that keep everything together. If you don’t take sufficient vitamin C, these fibers and, therefore, muscles become weak. For an injured athlete, this means that recovery becomes harder.
You can easily get your desired vitamin C from sources like citrus fruits, kiwi, broccoli, berries, guava, Brussels sprouts, etc. Supplements are also an option.