Training in the gym can be a risky affair. Sprained ankles, torn ligaments, and muscle strain are some of the injuries you are likely to incur when you apply inappropriate workout techniques. Luckily, soft tissues such as muscles, tendons, fascia, and ligaments are quick to signal distress through swelling, soreness and pain. So, the next time you experience any of the above symptoms, there is a good chance something is not right.
What most people do not know is that our bodies have an incredible healing capacity. And there are a few things you can do behind the scenes to support your bodies response mechanism. Below are some essential nutrition tips you can consider to assist your muscles to heal.
1. Fatty Acids such as Omega 3s
It is vital to consume essential fatty acids in our diet because our bodies are unable to produce them from metabolic processes. Fatty acids play a crucial role in the normal functioning of our systems; these include hormonal balance and the brain’s wellbeing. They are also at the heart of inflammation modulation which is key to the healing process. If you have trouble quelling pain and swelling in wounds, you need to eat meals rich in Omega 3, such as salmon, walnuts and chia seeds. Note that acute inflammation is a natural response that our bodies use to accelerate healing, so don’t worry if your wound swells before it reduces.
2. Vitamin C
Vitamin C is a must-have nutrient in your diet because it facilitates connective tissue repair as well as boosting energy metabolism. The hypothalamus pituitary adrenal axis acts as a stress response system that secretes hormones such as cortisol which accelerate swelling through oxidative stress load. Physical, emotional and chemically induced stress can create a deficiency in vitamin C. The bottom line is that tissue damage raises our body’s demand for this vitamin. Consuming food rich in this nutrient, such as oranges, red capsicum and kiwi fruit, is necessary for anybody with tissue damage. Luckily, vitamin C happens to dissolve in water meaning our bodies can regulate excess levels through excretion.
Magnesium helps to relax our muscles and nervous system. Common symptoms of magnesium deficiency include a headache, muscle strain, stiffness, constipation and mood swings. The mineral works its healing magic by improving muscle tone and working together with other crucial enzymes in your body.
Doctors and fitness managers continually stress the importance of consuming food rich in protein. Digestive enzymes break down the component into basic building blocks known as amino acids. Amino acids play a vital role in replacing worn out tissues. Like fatty acids, our bodies are not able to produce the building blocks, so we have to consume them in our diet.
Health experts recommend taking regular meals with a sufficient amount of protein rather than consuming large doses of it in a single meal. Daily protein intake helps in balancing blood sugar levels which determines the degree of swelling. Fitness gurus recommend taking breakfast rich in this component as well as diversifying your protein sources.
5. Proteolytic enzymes
If you do some digging, you will realise that the anti-inflammatory medications you purchase over the counter will reduce pain but may not aid the soft tissue healing processes.
Studies have shown that there exist a few alternatives known to boost healing time and deal with pain. A notable mention in this category is Kaprex. However, it is advisable to consult a health specialist before you use this product.
Supplements can bring out mixed results because everyone’s bodies are different. Even the best supplement will be ineffective if you consume unhealthy foods. For the best results, always combine a suitable nutritional supplement with a balanced diet to facilitate healing and tissue generation.
On average, most soft tissue injuries will require anywhere between 8 to 16 weeks to fully heal. The absence of pain does not necessarily mean that your wound is fully healed. It may be advisable to continue your treatment after the pain subsides, to avoid a re-occurrence of the complication. Consistency and discipline during treatment will lead to a better recovery and thus limit the chances of suffering a long-term injury.