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The Best Diet for Recovering From a Sports Injury

By Jaime Herndon

Recovering from a sports injury can be tough, particularly if the injury is especially severe, but there are ways you can help encourage healing and promote health. Diet and nutrition are excellent ways to provide your body with the nutrients it needs to rebuild muscle and bone, repair damaged tissues and get you back in the action. Talk with your doctor about what you can do to aid in your recovery, and consult her before taking any supplements to make sure they are safe for you to consume.

Vitamin C

Proper nutrients are necessary for general health, but when your body is working hard to repair itself, vitamins and minerals can be extra important. Vitamin C is a crucial vitamin for healing, as it is needed to help repair tissues throughout the body. This vitamin aids in producing collagen, which helps make tendons, ligaments, cartilage and blood vessels. Dietary sources of this vitamin include oranges, orange juice, green peppers, strawberries, broccoli, potatoes, winter squash and tomatoes. Talk with your doctor about whether a vitamin C supplement is a good choice for you.

Calcium and Vitamin D

Calcium is a mineral the human body needs for health, and vitamin D helps the body absorb the mineral. Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the human body, according to the National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. It is necessary for muscle contraction, hormone secretion and supports strong bones and teeth. If you have broken a bone with your sports injury, calcium can help encourage bone remodeling and strengthen bones. Dietary sources of calcium include sardines, cheese, milk, tofu, salmon, spinach and kale. Vitamin D can be made by the body when your skin is exposed to sunlight and helps the body better utilize calcium.


Protein is essential in maintaining health and repairing the body. Without enough protein, you can lose muscle mass, have a lowered immunity and growth failure, explains the Harvard School of Public Health. There are complete proteins, that contain all the amino acids the body needs to build more proteins, and incomplete proteins, which contain some amino acids. Animal food sources like fish and chicken are typically complete proteins, and plant proteins like nuts, grains and fruits and vegetables are incomplete proteins. If you have any muscle injuries, protein will be instrumental in helping rebuild strong muscle tissue and repair damaged tissue.

Anti-Inflammatory Foods

When your body is recovering from injury, inflammation can interfere with healing and irritate tissues, and a diet containing anti-inflammatory nutrients can help minimize inflammation. An anti-inflammatory diet contains lots of fruits and vegetables, which have fiber and natural anti-inflammatory compounds, as well as antioxidants that help protect cells from damage. Consuming foods with omega-3 fatty acids, like mackerel, tuna, herring, nuts and seeds, also helps minimize inflammation because of the anti-inflammatory properties of these essential fatty acids. Sugars and refined carbohydrates and foods containing trans fats, like prepackaged cookies or cakes, should be avoided or highly minimized as these can increase inflammation.

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