INJURY RECOVERY SUPPLEMENTS: TOP NUTRIENTS TO SUPPORT INJURY HEALING
Whether you’ve pushed yourself a little too hard during a recent workout, sprained your ankle on a recent run, or had an unfortunate accident that requires surgery, your body needs time to heal from your injuries.
Advil, pain pills, and other medications can help to relieve symptoms, but look toward nutrition to help you get back on your feet faster. Muscle recovery supplements, in conjunction with recovery-promoting foods that provide vitamins for muscles, may be able to help speed your injury recovery process.
Had a hard workout and now paying the price? Here’s what’s going on:
When you engage in strenuous physical activity, your muscles go through stress and develop microscopic tears in the muscle fibers, which, coupled with inflammation, cause gradually increasing discomfort like muscle soreness or stiffness.
This phenomenon is known as delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), because it generally occurs between 24-48 hours after exercise. Anyone, regardless of fitness level, can develop DOMS, but soreness should decrease as your muscles recover and adapt to the demands being placed on them.
Heat or Cold – What Should You Do?
While there isn’t any conclusive research that determines whether heat or cold is better for injury recovery, most experts recommend cold first – ice packs, ice baths, and even cryotherapy (cold therapy) to alleviate pain. Applying cold doesn’t help muscles recover any faster, however; it simply numbs pain and narrows blood vessels, helping to limit swelling. The general rule is to ice in cycles – 10 minutes on, 10 minutes off – to prevent damage to muscle tissue and other potential health dangers.
Then, once swelling has gone down, applying heat may increase blood flow to the injured area and assist the muscle recovery process. Heat pack use should be limited to just 15-20 minutes maximum, and you should always remember to place a barrier between the heat source and the skin to prevent burns.
DIETARY RECOMMENDATIONS FOR MUSCLE RECOVERY
Post-workout recovery foods, vitamins for muscles, and supplements for sore muscles are a real thing, as nutrition plays a critical role in muscle recovery – you need to get the right vitamins for muscle pain. The best of these include:
Protein after a workout is a must for recovery, but you already know this by the shakes and bars you often see consumed post-workout. Protein doesn’t just replenish energy – it helps repair muscle fiber damage induced during workouts and helps muscles adapt to exercise. Try to get 1.25 – 1.5 grams of protein per pound of your target weight.
Within the first 10-15 minutes after a workout, your glycogen stores (fuel for the muscles) need carbohydrate sources that digest quickly – think fruit – to raise insulin levels and replenish glycogen stores.
Drinking chocolate milk after a workout can act as a muscle recovery supplement because it seems to be an ideal balance of post-workout carbs and protein. Multiple studies have found that drinking this chocolaty treat (nonfat, of course) helps increase muscle protein synthesis, a sign of muscle recovery, and also leads to better and greater replenishment of glycogen after exercise.
Salmon and Other Fatty Fish
Fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids, especially eicosapentaenonic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) may help reduce post-workout inflammation.
Research has shown that drinking blueberry shakes post-workout has a positive impact on muscle recovery. Antioxidant-rich foods like blueberries are great muscle recovery supplements because they help prevent free radical damage to muscles from a workout and provide important vitamins for muscles, too.
Potassium Rich Foods
It’s easy for your body to lose potassium through sweat and dehydration, and potassium deficiency can lead to muscle cramps. Getting about 4.7g of potassium per day from protein-rich foods and leafy greens may help prevent these pains.
Strenuous lifting can cause stress and inflammation, but studies have shown that drinking tart cherry juice before and after a workout can help decrease muscle soreness and inflammation – think of them as providing vitamins for muscle pain.
While it’s technically not a food, staying hydrated is key for muscle recovery and preventing cramps, fatigue, and dizziness. Aim to drink 7-10 oz. of water every 10-20 minutes before, during, and after a workout, and even more if you’re working up a serious sweat.
MINOR BUMPS, BRUISES & SPRAINS
Whether you’re an experienced athlete or just getting started in an exercise routine, it’s common to experience some kind of minor injury. The most common injuries include:
Swelling caused by fluid under the surface of the skin.
Bluish or purplish patches that appear as tiny blood vessels under the skin burst and leak blood into soft tissue.
Also called “pulled muscles,” they are injuries to muscle fibers or tendons that anchor muscles to bones due to overstretching or overuse.
Injuries to ligaments, the tough bands connecting bones in a joint. They occur when sudden stretching past their limits deform or tear them.
For these types of injuries, doctors generally recommend the use of over-the-counter pain relievers.
Heat or Cold?
For minor bumps, bruises and sprains, swelling is a normal response; you can limit swelling and aid injury recovery by using the PRICE principle:
P — protect from further injury, and use a splint, pad, or crutch, if necessary.
R — restrict activity to prevent making the injury worse.
I — ice the area immediately after injury. Use ice for 20 minutes every one to two hours for the first 48 hours after the injury. Avoid heat at this time because it encourages swelling and inflammation.
C — compress with an elastic bandage to help reduce swelling.
E — elevate the injured area above the heart to help reduce swelling.
INJURIES REQUIRING SURGERY
Got back into your favorite activity but tweaked your knee and now require ACL surgery? Injuries like tears to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) are potentially the most severe of the common sports injuries and usually require surgery.
Most outpatient surgeries tend to be less-invasive orthopedic surgeries to repair injuries to damaged cartilage and ligaments in the knee, shoulder injuries, dislocations, and tendonitis. Surgery can also repair damaged soft tissue, align bones, and reposition joints.
Surgery recovery can mean dealing with post-surgical side effects like bruising, pain, and swelling at and around the surgery site. A period of rest to allow the area to heal is critical, and once healing commences, physical therapy can help you regain strength, range of movement, and flexibility while conditioning the area to make it more injury resistant in the future.
Have your joints have suffered the consequences of an active lifestyle, making you need hip replacement or knee replacement surgery? Or perhaps you’ve injured yourself at the gym and the only way to resolve it is by having surgery.
Recovering from a major surgery requires greater preparation and attention to diet than an outpatient procedure. For many individuals, older age, being overweight, and poor nutrition can impact the outcome of surgery and result in poor healing.
In particular, we need specific nutrients and vitamins for muscles and muscle recovery supplements to repair injured tissue, reduce oxidative load generated from anesthetic agents and surgery, and minimize bruising, pain and swelling
Two of the most important healing elements are calories and protein. Extra protein is needed to build new tissue and blood vessels, repair injured tissue and step up production of cells that repair wounds. Choose high-quality protein sources like fish, poultry, beans & legumes or lean cuts of meat.
Protein Needs for Recovery
Normal protein requirements are about 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight. For example, a 140-pound woman needs about 50 grams of protein a day (140 divided by 2.2 = 63.6 kilograms multiplied by 0.8). However, after surgery, this amount should be increased by 1 ½ times to about 95 grams of protein a day.
If you can’t eat this amount of protein, consider adding a high-quality protein powder muscle recovery supplement in yogurt, smoothies or shakes. One scoop provides 20 grams of protein and just 80 calories. Another great option is to snack on plain, non-fat Greek yogurt – just one serving provides 18 grams of protein.
Nutrients for Recovery
A range of vitamins (for muscles and more) and minerals like those found in our Clinical Support Program may help promote healing, boost immunity, and fight oxidative stress. They include:
Vitamin A (plus beta-carotene). Supports healthy cell growth and maintenance of epithelial tissue.†
Vitamin C. Supports healthy tissue growth and collagen formation.†
Zinc. Plays a key role in maintaining healthy immune function, protein synthesis and collagen formation. Selenium, bioflavonoids and other antioxidants deactivate unstable free-radicals.†
B-Complex. Help to moderate the stress response function during periods of physical stress.†
Other antioxidant minerals and vitamins for muscles, including vitamin D, selenium, copper, and bioflavonoids, may help deactivate free-radicals and reduce oxidative load.
Be aware – vitamin E and other herbals such as gingko biloba, St. John’s wort, and Echinacea may have negative side effects when taken before surgery.
Natural Recovery Remedies
Certain natural products can be beneficial in aiding recovery from injuries and surgery, and they can be supplements for sore muscles that help with pain as well.
Homeopathic Arnica Montana
Natural products like Arnica Montana are well established for treating bruising, swelling, and pain from soft tissue injury. The Arnica Montana plant contains compounds that are especially important for the reduction of bruising and swelling from soft tissue injury. Arnica is believed to increase the flow of blood around bruised tissue causing escaped fluids to be absorbed by the body. The absorption of the fluids makes black and blue marks go away faster and reduces the swelling by relieving the pressure on nerve endings. It’s also an ideal muscle recovery supplement for sprains and strains from overuse or sports injury and after less-invasive surgical procedures like arthroscopic surgery.
Today, Arnica Montana products can be found over-the-counter in cream, gel, ointment, tincture, salve and tablet form. For best results, use a combination of oral Arnica Montana and topical Arnica cream.
Homeopathic efficacy is measured in potency, not milligrams and is indicated on the packaging. The most commonly used potencies include 6X, 12X and 30X. For adults, taking 30x potency three times a day as recommended can be beneficial.
Bromelain with Quercetin
Bromelain is an enzyme extracted from pineapple. A number of studies have found that the compounds in bromelain are effective in reducing inflammation, swelling, and pain that often accompany a surgical procedure or soft tissue injury. For best results, it can be taken in conjunction with Arnica Montana. Together, these supplements for sore muscles can really act as supplements for muscle recovery that help with injury symptoms.
A common but often-overlooked issue after surgery is post-surgical constipation. Even if you have regular bowel movements prior to surgery, you’re likely to experience post surgery constipation because pain medications, anesthetic agents, alterations to diet, dehydration, stress and reduced physical activity can work against your body’s normal routine of elimination. After anesthesia, it can take a few days for your digestive system to start working normally again, so you may want to get things moving along better with a natural regularity-promoting supplement like SurgiLax.
The beneficial bacteria that line your digestive tract play an important role in getting things moving, but their job is made much more difficult if you’re taking an antibiotic, which is routine after surgery. The problem is antibiotics not only kill the bad bacteria but the good bacteria, too.
It helps to repopulate your gut with beneficial bacteria by eating yogurt and drinking kefir, foods that naturally contain probiotics, and by supplementing with a probiotic like our GI Balance Probiotic, formulated to help rebalance the digestive tract following antibiotic therapy.†
LONG TERM OVERUSE INJURIES
If you’ve been a runner or played tennis for years, you know when your joints are talking to you. Overuse injuries that become chronic contribute to inflammatory “-itis” conditions such as bursitis, osteoarthritis, and tendonitis.
Inflammation is the immune system’s biological response to injury or damage. Inflammation facilitates the removal of harmful stimuli and irritants, provides protection to an injured area, and allows the healing process to begin.
There are two types of inflammation that can occur in the body: acute and chronic.
Acute inflammation is associated with injury or surgery. It is short-lived and usually appears within a few minutes or hours following a trauma.
The five characteristics of acute inflammation are: redness, increased heat, swelling, pain and loss of function. Acute inflammation can be caused by damaged cells, irritants or pathogens and will typically resolve itself upon the removal of the offender. When acute inflammation is not resolved, it becomes a chronic condition, which ultimately causes cellular destruction at the affected site.
Because the five symptoms of acute inflammation can only be observed on the surface of the body, chronic inflammation generally goes unnoticed. This is why chronic inflammation is also known as “silent” inflammation. Chronic inflammation is especially dangerous. When left untreated, it can lead to conditions like arthritis, heart disease, periodontitis, hay fever and possibly certain types of cancer.
Certain foods like refined carbohydrates, added sugars, saturated fats, and trans fats, promote inflammation. It’s best to avoid these foods and eat an anti-inflammatory diet – something closer to a Mediterranean diet comprising of mostly fresh fruits, vegetables, little to no red meat, and lots of omega-3 foods.
Focus on eating a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables in a variety of colors as their antioxidants can help fight inflammation and provide necessary vitamins for muscles. You can think of them as the very first-line muscle recovery supplements and supplements for sore muscles that also help with injury recovery. They’re also like vitamins for muscle pain because as their antioxidants fight inflammation, they help fight soreness and pain.
Eat more oily fish like salmon, sardines, tuna, and anchovies, which are rich in inflammation-fighting omega-3 fatty acids. Use extra virgin olive oil as it contains monounsaturated fat, antioxidants, and oleocanthal, an inflammation-fighting compound.
Fill up on fiber-rich foods like legumes, as fiber can lower C-reactive protein (CRP), a substance in the blood that indicates inflammation.
Supplements that Support the Healthy Inflammatory Response†
Several nutritional supplements can also boost the body’s anti-inflammatory response:
This enzyme extracted from pineapple, acts as an anti-inflammatory, reducing inflammation from infection and injuries.†
Also known as flavonoids, these naturally occurring compounds are powerful antioxidants that fight inflammation. While there are over 4,000 known bioflavonoids, the most familiar types include quercetin, proanthocyanidins, citrus flavonoids, and green tea polyphenols.†
Fish Oil Omega-3s
The fatty acids found in oily fish has been shown to reduce inflammation, but it’s important to have a higher omega-3 to omega-6 ratio to see this benefit. The reverse is true about the typical American diet, which promotes inflammation because it tends to be much higher in omega-6s than omega-3s.†