Today, we look at nutrition for the prevention and treatment of injuries in athletes.
It’s been reported that most athletes will unfortunately sustain Injuries to the muscle, bone, tendon and ligaments over the course of their career.
Knowing this, it’s important that we put interventions in motion to reduce the likeliness of injury, and to have strategies in place to accelerate recovery if an injury occurs.
Close et al (2019) have outlined the following…
To Treat the Muscle:
– Adequate protein may not prevent a muscle injury; however increasing protein intake post injury may help overcome anabolic resistance, and therefore support muscle retention and injury repair.
– During limb immobilisation, high dose omega-3 supplementation has the potential to reduce muscle mass loss and function through increasing anabolic sensitivity.
– Vitamin D deficiency can impair muscle regeneration following damaging exercise. Therefore, may play a role in muscle injuries and regeneration.
– Creatine supplementation can reduce muscle mass and strength loss when the limb is immobilised, and improve rates of muscle gain following limb immobilisation.
– Upon injury, athletes should avoid large energy deficits as this will impair the healing process and accelerate muscle mass loss during limb immobilisation.
Athletes should reduce intake in relation to reduced expenditure, but they need to eat adequate amounts to ‘feed healing’.
To Support & Treat the Bone:
– Low energy availability (calories available for the body to use after exercise) reduces bone formation and causes bone resorption. This can be seen after 5 days in females and in some males. Of which reduced dietary intake, rather than increased expenditure appears to drive this. Consuming adequate calories is likely to be important in optimising bone health.
– Improving calcium and vitamin D status can decrease fracture risk. Therefore ‘pre-loading’ calcium before sweaty sessions and supplementing with Vit D during winter months is recommended.
– Don’t be deficient in anything…protein, magnesium, phosphorus, vitamin D, potassium, and fluoride, manganese, copper, boron, iron, zinc, vitamin A, K, C, and B support bone tissue and formation.
To Support & Treat Tendons + Ligaments:
– Vitamin C, glycine and copper play a role in connective tissue healing and strength.
– Collagen/gelatine supplementation can increase collagen synthesis when supplemented prior to loading, in return increasing its tensile strength of connective tissue. This can be used as a prehab and rehab strategy. Some evidence also suggests that supplementation decreases knee pain through increasing cartilage thickness.
Ultimately, whether you’re looking at preventative or treatment strategies…don’t be deficient in anything, meet the bodies demands!

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