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By: Yvette Styner, DYNAMIS Figure Athlete & Holistic Nutritionist (in progress)

Nothing is more devastating to an athlete than an injury.  Whether chronic or as a result of a sudden mishap, the tears that flow are often not from the physical pain of the injury, but from the grief and heartache associated with the possibility of not reaching whatever fitness/sports goals you’ve set for yourself. As athletes, we’re often obsessively focused individuals with an all-or-nothing mentality.  And maintaining some balance and perspective during the early days of an injury is often replaced with a defeatist mentality.  But don’t despair; all is not lost.  I know it’s easier said than done, I’ve been there - when it only seems logical that if I can’t be lifting my personal bests or I can’t be sprinting full-out, then I might as well have a Walking Dead marathon and devour entire bags of chips and m&m’s.

Aside from the obvious medical treatments and therapies that you will follow to heal your injury as effectively and quickly as possible, there are other simple things you can do for yourself to help promote healing and to take care of yourself emotionally through the process.

Focus on another body part or component of training.  Find another outlet for your obsessive focusing!  If you’ve injured your shoulder, use your recovery period as an opportunity to hit hard on legs, and vice versa.  If you need to back off the strength training, find some cardio that you can do and burn those calories!  Most always, there is some muscle group, some body part, some component of training – whether cardiovascular, core work, flexibility training – that is okay to continuing working on.  Make a new mission and conquer it!  In the end, not only will it help with your psychological health throughout the duration of your injury recovery, but will most likely make you an all-round better athlete for it.

NURTURE YOUR MIND & SPIRIT

Use this down time to catch up with friends and family.  We all lead busy lives, especially when you add in our dedication to training and the extra time it takes in life.  Now is a great time to reconnect over coffee dates or movie nights.

Likewise, if you’re at all like I am you’re a mover and sedentary tasks seem to pile up!  If you need to be a little less active right now while your injury heals, catch-up on desk work, books you’ve been meaning to read, filing, or other sedentary tasks.  Getting caught up on the mundane stuff outside of the gym will ease stress you may have been carrying over it, and free up space in your mind for planning on your recovery stradegies.

Try stimulating yourself intellectually by doing things that you normally don’t sit still long enough to do!  Take an online course or watch some podcasts on a favorite topic.  I started Rosetta Stone Spanish back a few years ago during the acute stage of a back injury.

Your workouts are your stress release, your time to vent some steam.  So find other ways right now to relax and unwind.  Hot bath, a massage, meditate, maybe a little retail therapy with a new outfit.  Do things that will make you feel pampered and indulged.

NUTRITION

Finally, be sure to stick to clean, nutritious eating.  The foods we eat play a huge role in keeping our mood and outlook positive through injury-recovery, but also in our body’s ability to heal and rebuild damaged tissues.

Adjust your overall caloric intake for the change in energy expenditure, but now is not the time to diet.  Maintain adequate caloric intake so your body can meet the energy requirements needed to maintain function and support repair.

*  Avoid sugar completely if possible.  Sugar greatly diminishes the immune system almost immediately upon consumption.  Likewise, alcohol not only suppresses the immune system but also impairs the body’s ability to absorb nutrients, vitamins and minerals that are crucial to your body’s ability to heal right now.  Maintain adequate protein and increase your BCAAs, which will help promote the healing of muscle tissue, bones and skin. (See Dynamis AMINOpulse and REFUEL s6k).

Healing is largely dependent on blood supply, and the stronger the blood supply, the faster you can heal because blood supplies the injured area with important oxygen and nutrients which help the injury heal.

Certain foods can promote inflammation within the body while others have an anti-inflammatory effect.  Avoid inflammation promoting foods such as fried foods, processed white flour, eggplant, cayenne, tomatoes, potatoes, and hot peppers.

ANTI-INFLAMMATORY FOODS

Dark, leafy greens 
Dark, leafy greens like spinach and kale are packed with flavonoids, which may reduce inflammation in the brain. Good sources include spinach, kale, soybeans, berries, and tea.

Pineapple 
This tropical fruit contains the enzyme bromelain, which can help treat muscle injuries like sprains and strains. Add pineapple to a smoothie or salad.

Flaxseed 
Flaxseed is packed with omega-3 fatty acids, which can help reduce inflammation. Grind flaxseed to release the oils, and then add a spoonful of it to your salad, oatmeal, or yogurt.

Carrots
 Orange carrots are rich in carotenoids, a group of phytochemicals that help protect cells from free radicals, boost immunity, and help regulate inflammation. Other carotenoid-rich foods include apricots, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, and pumpkin.

Cinnamon 
Research has shown that cinnamon not only reduces inflammation but also fights bacteria, assists with blood sugar control, and enhances brain function. Sprinkle cinnamon over yogurt, cereal, or oatmeal, or add it to a smoothie.

Ginger 
Ginger contains several anti-inflammatory compounds called gingerols, which may relieve joint pain, prevent free radical damage, and increase immunity. Steep a couple of slices of ginger in hot water for ginger tea, or add fresh ginger to a smoothie.

Onions 
Try using onions as a base for soups, sauces, and stir-fries. Similar foods with anti-inflammatory benefits include garlic, leeks, and chives.

Walnuts 
Walnuts are loaded with anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids. Top a salad with a handful of walnuts or eat raw walnuts as a snack.

Turmeric 
A mustard-yellow spice from Asia, turmeric gets its coloring from a compound called curcumin. Researcher shows that curcumin can improve chronic pain by suppressing inflammatory chemicals in the body. Make a homemade curry with turmeric or mix it into other recipes once or twice a week.

Other nutrients that can help:

  • Multivitamin: very important, helps prevent vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Aids tissue repair.
  • Zinc:  important in tissue repair.
  • Vitamin C with Bioflavonoids: an important antioxidant which helps tissue repair and growth
  • Manganese: strengthens wounded tendons and ligaments
  • EFAs (essential fatty acids): speeds up recovery and promotes cellular health
  • Vitamin B helps reduce injury related stress
  • Glucosamine Sulfate helps strengthen and form tendons cartilage, ligaments and joint fluid

You’re injured, you’ve been temporarily sidetracked from your original plan.  But you’ve got the tools, you’ve got the discipline and the drive, now plan your recourse and attack this!  You’ll be back better than before J

Yvette Styner, Holistic Nutritionist & DYNAMIS Figure Athlete 

January 03, 2015 by Evan Ward