One of the Indian cricket team opening batsmen and my client got injured during a Test match in South Africa. He called me urgently and shared the details of his injury. The team doctor said it would take him 12-14 weeks to recover and play. For the player, it meant missing out on the next tour and the probability of losing the place in the team.
We started his nutrition therapy immediately, and he was back by the 8th week.
An athlete sustains an injury as a result of the body’s cells being stressed. These cells have a reservoir of energy. Carbohydrates, proteins, and fats act as energy stores. In simple terms, nutrition drives your cells.
The cellular substance, of which water is a vital component, is responsible for most of a cell’s structure. So, as a sports nutritionist, for me, hydration is key.
Electrolytes are required by muscles because they aid in muscular contraction and relaxation. When an athlete is dehydrated, muscles become tense as this signal goes haywire. When a muscle is stiff, and you continue to do exercises, you risk pushing the muscle beyond its comfort zone.
It is critical that athletes provide nourishment to the body as soon as they complete exercise/training.
There is a recovery window of 1 to 3 hours; for example, muscle glycogen is non-insulin recoverable in the first hour, so within half an hour of ending your workout/training, it is imperative that athlete replenish glucose levels (equivalent to the bodyweight). Caffeine aids in the rapid regeneration of glycogen.
When glucose is not replaced quickly, cells become dehydrated and do not receive the nutrition they require. All nutrients are best friends with water, and glucose is necessary for them to reach the cells. As a result, when nourishment is neglected, injury results from the mere lack of glucose.
Certain amino acids are required for your Tissues, cartilage, and ligaments. Glucosamine, hyaluronic acid, collagen peptide, and bone broth soup are all good sources of amino acids.
A perfectly balanced diet regimen, by understanding what to eat, how much to eat and when to eat, is essential for athletes who want to avoid injury and have a longer shelf life as athletes.
What to do when the athlete gets injured?
When you get hurt, your tissue becomes damaged, and scar tissue forms. Nutritional therapy should begin as soon as possible following an injury. I remember starting nutrition therapy for one of my injured athletes whilst he was in the ambulance travelling to the hospital.
Hydration intake, sleep habits, nutrient inadequacies, and energy levels should all be checked on the athlete. The nutrition strategy should be tailored to an individual’s resting metabolic rate (RMR), injury cycle, physical activity restrictions, and to reduce fat mass accumulation.
Collagen, omega 3, gelatin, turmeric, and other nutrients are all part of my injury nutrition plan, which is systemically synchronized and incorporated with the diet.
The substantial protein in your bone, cartilage, and ligaments is collagen. Its raw material mainly comes from gelatin. As per research, when athletes enhance collagen/gelatin intake, growth and strength can be improved i.e., recovery will happen faster.
Some researchers also show that the ancient herb Cissus quadrangularis actually can reduce bone fracture recovery to 3-4 weeks. Dosages for each athlete need to be determined individually.
Minerals, fatty acids, vitamins, and amino acids, in addition to boosting anti-inflammatory food intake, are necessary to help rebuild the matrix.
Pineapple is a great way to speed up your healing. It contains a chemical called Bromelain, which aids in the reduction of inflammation and promotes healing in the body. Bromelain is also available in a sachet or tablet form.
Anthocyanins, also known as nature’s disprin, have antioxidant properties. Purple foods, such as purple cabbage, contain them. Purple cabbage is very low in calories, which helps to prevent weight gain and additional stress on the body.
Mistakes athletes make while recovering
When you get injured, your training patterns change, but what about your eating habits?
Your taste buds and hunger center hypothalamus will constantly refer to your eating habits from the previous three months to determine your present needs.
So, even if you’re injured and not practicing, your body may send you signals to eat the same amount of calories as you did before the injury.
While resting, you suddenly find yourself consuming more calories than you require.
Guess what? You gain five kgs as a result of your poor eating habits while injured. As a result, you’ll have to work twice as hard when you return to training.
Many athletes assume that the hard work they put in during training sessions will compensate for it, so they reward themselves with large meals. Sadly, it just dilutes whatever beneficial effects that may have had on the body.
When an athlete is hurt, it is not the time to let go; instead, it is the moment to become more disciplined. What differentiates the champions from the rest is their nutrition approach throughout these times.
After an injury, the first 48 hours are crucial. I can’t emphasize this enough, but if you want to save your career and avoid injuries, or if you are currently injured, pick up the phone right now and call us at +91-9743430000 to speak with our sports nutritionist and learn how we can help you.