In a situation of a sudden musculoskeletal injury, the body has several ways of dealing with the new imposed stress. The physiological processes of Healing are quite complex but we can generally describe them in three stages: Inflammation, Repair, and Remodeling. Treatment protocols are always based on what is known about these stages. The body will heal itself and any management plan is there to help this natural healing to happen most efficiently.
Inflammation is a first response of living tissues to cell injury. Its role is to limit injury, clear away dead cells, protect the area from infection, and restore the tissue to normal health. Acute inflammation is a natural process – it is the beginning of natural healing and immediate management is crucial to optimize its outcome. We want to protect the injured area to prevent from further damage and control inflammatory response to minimize symptoms and duration. A standard management includes Rest, Ice, Compassion, Elevation, and Anti-inflammatory drugs.
Once the extend of injury is ‘under control’, there is a need of Repair and stimulation of tissue synthesis. The nutritional status has a profound effect on enzyme activity involved in this tissue repair. Some of the Essential Nutrients include Zinc, Copper, Magnese, Bioflavonoids, Amino-acids, Vitamins E and C. These are required in sufficient amounts to boost the natural anti-inflammatory capacities and facilitate muscle regeneration. These nutrients may be found in Beans, Nuts, Whole Grains, Seeds, Fruit, and Vegetables.
Fats and Sugars also affect the healing. Omega 3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties whereas Omega 6 fatty acids may have an opposite effect. To achieve a good balance in diet, it is good to include Oily Fish, Wild Game Meats, Flax seed oil, Canola oil and lots of Green Vegetables. Sugar is a source of energy that we do need but any excess sugar contributes to greater metabolic end products that stimulate inflammation in the body. Since modern diets are already high in sugar, it would be a good idea to limit its intake whether your injured or not.
The final stage of healing is remodeling, that’s when functional adaptations take place. This is the time when we start exercising more vigorously and begin the return to full strength. Just like in any other training programme, when returning to game from injury, nutrition plays a big part.