When you think of ways to prevent the kinds of overuse injuries that commonly affect those who regularly participate in run training—such as runner’s knee or plantar fasciitis—you probably don’t think about nutrition. It’s true that proper nutrition can do little to prevent injuries caused by factors such as overtraining or wearing the wrong type of running shoes. But specific eating habits can be an effective part of a comprehensive injury-prevention strategy that includes such measures as getting adequate muscle recovery and using the right equipment. Four Eating Habits That Reduce Injury Risk
1. Eat enough
The worst nutritional mistake for injury prevention is to not eat enough food. When your body isn’t getting the calories and nutrition it needs your body can’t keep up with tissue maintenance and energy needs. Your muscles then begin to eat themselves in what is called a catabolic state. This also compromises your bodies ability to repair tissue damage you incur during your workouts, mean you recover slower and increase the risk of injury.
You can know when you’re not getting enough food because you’ll notice a decline in your workout performance. If you’re new to exercise or don’t really track your performance, then measure yourself. When you’re in a catabolic state, your body weight will go down while your body fat percentage remains the same, indicating that you’re losing muscle, not fat.
2. Don’t forget the fat
Because of the lobbying junk food companies did in previous establishments long ago, fat has received a bad reputation, but it’s crucial that your body gets a good amount of healthy fats. They’re needed to create healthy cell membranes that are resistant to damage during exercise. Certain types of fat are also essential nutrients in the inflammation process, which can keep small injuries from becoming bigger ones. People who don’t eat healthy amounts of fats: avocados, dark chocolate, chia seeds, nuts, etc… are the most likely to be injured.
Try to target 30 percent of your daily calories from good, healthy fats. Try to eliminate as many sugars and processed foods as you can. And you want to consume at least twice as many unsaturated fat as saturated fat. Also, do your best to hit a daily target of 3,000 mg of omega-3 essential fats.
3. Keep the calcium coming
Bone strains and stress fractures are more common for runners than other types of exercises. The driving factor of these injuries is a low bone density. This is why calcium, the most important nutrient for bone health, is important for any athlete. The recommended daily intake of calcium is 1,000 to 1,300 mg. But the average adult consumes only 500 to 700 mg daily. For those looking for nutrition tips, try consuming three servings of low-fat or non-fat dairy foods per day. However, there’s a significant amount of research that suggests calcium supplements are even more effective than dairy foods in maintaining bone density. Click here for a related article on the best pre workout supplements.
4. Train, shower, eat
When you eat is every bit as important as what you eat when it comes to preventing injuries. Muscle and joint tissue damage from your workout is recovers and repairs the most in the two hours immediately after the workout—provided you eat during that time. The most important nutrient to consume for post-exercise tissue repair is protein, and to combine your protein intake with complex carbs is even better. The carbs stimulate muscle protein synthesis so they can help your body break down the protein so your system gets more of it.
In a study involving Marine recruits, those who used a carbohydrate-protein supplement daily after physical training through 54 days of boot camp had 33 percent fewer total medical visits, 37 percent fewer muscle and tendon injuries, and less muscle soreness than recruits who used a carbohydrate-only control or a placebo. While there are lots of carb-protein supplements formulated especially for use after exercise to speed muscle recovery, regular foods containing carbs and protein will do the job as well. Think a tall glass of low-fat chocolate milk or a turkey sandwich on whole-wheat bread. Both are tasty ways to avoid post-workout hunger—and injury.