An introduction to sports supplements
Getting injured is more than experiencing pain; it’s also equal parts frustration and disappointment. Not only is training or competing out of the question, but routine activities become a burden and even an impossibility. Sometimes, patients may have a hard time dealing with their condition to the point where they will attempt anti-inflammatory or painkiller drugs to keep working out. While the latter may be prescribed at times, needless to say, pushing oneself just as much as before the injury is firmly unadvised during rehabilitation, as it will worsen the damage exponentially.
In absence of professional medical advice and the close attention of a physical therapist, the best possible attitude that will render the fastest results is starting from scratch. Assuming that an appropriate recovery exercise routine is in place, which is usually the case as early as 24-48 hours after the accident, there are sports supplements that can be used to speed up the body’s natural healing process. The founder of sports supplements company DNA Lean, Paul Jenkins explains “When professional athletes get injured, sports organizations emphasize rest and nutrition just as much as they do medical investigations and working with a physiotherapist. This is the case because, as research has shown in the past two decades, fulfilling nutritional requirements is paramount to a fast, easy and thorough recovery.”
4 Important Ways Sports Supplements Aid Injury Recovery
1. Protein supplements are still primary
Even though you may be in low spirits from your routine being turned upside down, don’t throw away those supplements you’ve been using so far. As an essential building-block of muscles, it makes sense for protein-rich supplements and foods to be helpful when recovering from an injury. Several studies concluded that getting enough protein is crucial for an optimal recovery in cases of exercise-induced injuries, just as long as the rehabilitation process has already started. Making sure you get enough protein from your food and supplements while injured helps prevent the decline in muscle strength and mass normally associated with injuries.
In terms of maximizing muscle protein synthesis, it was demonstrated that spreading the protein supplements evenly throughout the day, in the form of two or three doses, is up to 25% more efficient than taking a large quantity at a time, which also translated into visibly better results.
2. Sports supplements contain vitamin C
There seems to be a vitamin C recommendation at every corner. However, this is not just a case of “it can’t hurt, so let’s just throw it in there”. Quite the opposite, as this particular substance (known as ascorbic acid) has a two-fold role in speeding up the injury rehabilitation time. First and foremost, this vitamin has a major role in the production of collagen, the most abundant protein in the human body, which is also tasked with maintaining the entire musculoskeletal system, i.e. muscle tendons, the muscles themselves, but also the bones. Secondly, it acts as an anti-oxidant, which helps your immune system better manage and tone-down those swellings associated with the rehab timeframe.
Although not all sports supplements include vitamin C in their formula, there are a number of them that offer a blend of minerals and vitamins essential for professional athletes and amateurs alike. Given its importance for healing and reconstruction, ascorbic acid should be your second priority after protein supplements during recovery.
3. Omega-3 supplements are also keepers
Omega-3 fatty acids have been at the forefront of sound nutritional advice for what must be decades now. While omega-3 is usually recommended for cardiovascular health, its anti-inflammatory properties also make it an important addition to the list of must-have sports supplements during rehabilitation. After all, anything that can help the body ease the pain and transition from damaged, swollen tissue to lean, normal one is worth considering.
Although more research is needed, preliminary data also suggests that omega-3s stimulate muscle protein synthesis by as much as 50% its normal rate during immobilization. However, special care needs to be given to this substance, as over-dosing on supplements containing it can slow down the muscle-building process once training is resumed. A single brand containing this substance is enough, and to make sure that everything is in order, a doctor’s opinion should also be sought, at least initially.
As one of the most studied sports supplements available on a global scale, creatine is known for its lack of harmful side-effects and its beneficial properties in terms of muscle strength, as well as mass. When it comes to injury rehabilitation, creatine was found to stimulate the regenerative response in muscle tissues, which translated into better maintenance of current levels of muscle mass and strength. At the same time, it helped prevent losses in the affected areas, once physiotherapy training started.
In terms of training, the substance is also known to increase muscle resistance, which will act as a safe-guard against further injury during physiotherapy. Injury occurring while you’re recovering can be particularly demoralizing, as it poses a high risk of further expanding the initial damage, while creating a negative association between recovery training and its results.
Other tips for speeding up injury recovery
Overall, rehabilitation times can be sped up by supplements that also contain anti-oxidants, vitamin D and calcium, particularly for those cases where bone tissue restoration is necessary. Rehabilitation exercises involving movement work in tandem with the substances provided by these supplements, progressively replenishing damaged tissue with healthy, strong cells. What’s more, the bulk of the healing process takes place during sleep hours.
Therefore, the best way to ensure that the vital substances from these sports supplements target your injury is to keep to recovery training and get at least 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep.
If you can afford it, several sessions on zero-gravity treadmills are a short-fire way to maximizing recovery results for lower-body injuries. The device basically ensures pain-free movement that further stimulates circulation, healing and, therefore, muscle regeneration!
Paul Jenkins started his career studying MSc applied chemistry before becoming a sports nutritionist who currently has almost 20 years experience in sports nutrition.
Results on how protein distribution throughout the day influences muscle synthesis:
Beneficial effects of protein during rehabilitation training:
Creatine’s potential benefits for injury rehabilitation:
The impact of omega-3 on muscle protein synthesis during immobilization:
The effects of anabolic steroids on the body’s cholesterol balance:
Vitamin C’s role on dealing with swelling and muscle restoration: