Recovering from a Sports or Yoga Injury? 4 Tips to Heal Faster
Article At A Glance
When recovering from injury, good nutrition is just as important as physical therapy or restful sleep. Here are four tips to help you heal faster from a sports or yoga injury.
When healing from a sport or yoga injury, you may consider physical rehabilitation and rest as the key components needed for a full recovery. While these are definitely important, most people overlook the fact that what you choose to eat each day may make or break your healing powers. It’s important to recognize the healing power of nutrition to help speed up recovery and reduce inflammation as you recover.
Eating a whole-food diet is essential for providing your body with the resources it needs to reduce inflammation, heal faster, and feel better. Whole food is real food—unprocessed.
It’s tempting to “treat yourself” when you’re laid up during recovery, but read the labels before indulging. Processed food often lacks nutrients and contains additives such as high fructose corn syrup, sodium, or preservatives which may contribute to oxidative stress—not ideal during the recovery process.
Tip #1: Understand How to Make Inflammation Work for You, Not Against You
When the body is injured, inflammation plays a major role in aiding the healing process by alerting your immune system. But too much for too long can be detrimental to your overall health and put you at risk for chronic illness and pain, not to mention slowing down the recovery process. To help manage inflammation you need to give your body what it needs to recover and thrive.
If you struggled with symptoms of chronic inflammation (pain, depression, frequent infections) before your injury, it may benefit to do a detox practice when you’re up to it (possibly medically guided). In addition, you might want to purge your refrigerator and cabinets of tempting treats. Set yourself up for success as you begin your healing journey.
Ironically, the pain meds you were prescribed may interfere with digestive motility, and that can contribute to a vicious inflammatory cycle. It’s worth exploring how to manage inflammation, and even reduce pain, naturally, even if you still need to take meds.
Tip #2: Chose Foods That Nourish Your Body While Reducing Inflammation
Eating a whole food diet rich in vitamins and minerals will provide your body with the nutritional building blocks (including antioxidants and fiber) it needs to heal quickly and efficiently while also reducing inflammation.
Foods like fruits, vegetables, legumes*, nuts, seeds, fish* and plant based-proteins are all excellent sources of vital nutrients that help nourish your body during injury recovery.
I put asterisks beside legumes and fish, because I am aware of the different schools of thought on what triggers inflammation.
Beans have been criticized for causing inflammation because, if not prepared properly, they may be more difficult to digest.
Tip #3: Know Your Labels!
Fish has been part of the Mediterranean diet for centuries, but not all fish is alike. Some fish have higher levels of mercury, and some feel farm-raised fish are more subject to contamination. These things could make what is generally considered healthy, unhealthy.
Take care to read the labels on your meats as well. Store-bought chicken may be injected with sodium or other additives. You don’t have to be a vegetarian to reduce inflammation, but try to use discretion in what you eat and the source (at least most of the time).
The most foolproof way to limit inflammation and oxidative stress, according to research, is to stick to a variety of plants and non-processed foods.
Tip #4: Favor Foods that Can Help Your Body to Heal Faster
Good nutrition isn’t just about maintaining a healthy weight. It’s also about giving your body what it needs to heal from injury more quickly and effectively than if you weren’t eating well-rounded meals or snacks packed with vitamins and minerals.
A nutrient-dense diet is essential in order to rebuild damaged tissues — nutrients like magnesium, vitamin C, zinc and omega 3 fatty acids are especially needed during recovery. You can get these nutrients naturally from foods like nuts and seeds, leafy greens, and good ole sunlight!
When you eat well, you feel well. The most straightforward way to eat well is to consume food that doesn’t have to list ingredients. What you see is what you get.
In Conclusion: Harness the Power of Food for Faster Recovery
When recovering from injury, good nutrition is just as important as physical therapy or restful sleep. In fact, consider all areas of health, including mental, emotional, and spiritual health. Being gimpy is no fun, and it will mess with your mood and outlook if you let it.
Take advantage of your downtime and consider what you need in order to feel well. This may include tending to self-care needs, reading a good book, nurturing friendships, or planning something you can look forward to when you recover. Eating a nurturing whole-food diet should be part of the “I will take care of myself in order to heal” mindset.