Fuel Your Recovery:
Nutrition and Injury Rehabilitation

Sarah Sherman, PT, DPT, ATC, SCS

In times of injury, we often feel out of control – muscles weaken rapidly, surgery leads to restrictions, and the length of recovery feels undefined. However, will this negative mindset help you get back to play? The answer is simple – NO. The right approach is complex and multi-factorial, so let us focus on one component that IS in our control: diet.

Three stages of injury recovery:
1. Inflammation (injury to approximately 4 days)
2. Proliferation (4 days to approximately 4-6 weeks)
3. Remodeling (lasts 2-3 years post-injury)

Inflammation is necessary for the body to heal. However, excess inflammation from injury, in addition to poor dietary intake, can negatively affect the healing process. Additionally, the body has varying caloric and nutritional demands during recovery. For example, additional supplements and/or increased macronutrient intake may be beneficial during the proliferation and remodeling phases of healing.

Prepare the body to heal just as one would prepare the body to perform. To learn more about supplementing physical rehabilitation with diet, discuss goals with your physical therapist, athletic trainer, or physician, and consider seeking nutritional guidance from a registered dietician.