Injury and nutrition for recovery

Injury and nutrition for recovery

If you don't want to get injured then I suggest that mountain biking is perhaps not the sport for you. There will be plenty of occasions when you overestimate your abilities and bleed. Or do one of my best-rehearsed tricks, and fall off a stationary bike. Don't pretend like you've never done it before.

I work with a lot of clients who are recovering from injury- mountain bike related and other. And recently I managed a decent one myself. I'd like to say it was a spectacular jump, but mostly it was a speed where I should've slowed, immediately followed by a pile of limbs, my bike, what I suspect was a concussion, a dislocation and according to my surgeon – an exploded hand.

My hand after the crash and before surgery
My hand after the crash and before surgery.

So how do can you maximise your recovery when you get that new bit of bling fitted to hold you back together? Or even the smaller, yet equally frustrating injuries like muscle sprains and strains?

It all comes down to your base nutrition.

What does your diet look like on a day to day basis? Everything else is the cream on top.

When you are injured, your protein requirements are going to be a little higher than normal – this is because your body needs these as the building blocks for tissue repair. I always remind clients, however, that this is not a free ticket to eating “all of the meat”. If you do that, you're just going to add to your inflammation and potentially slow down your recovery. Choose lean proteins as well as vegetarian sources like legumes, tofu and fish.

For a lot of people, an injury means downtime. So if you're off your bike and spending more time on the couch, you need less energy otherwise you are going to find that when you are all healed up and ready to roll, you'll have gained a good few kilos. Consider that when you find yourself bored and emotional! As a general rule, you'll need fewer carbs. But choose healthier, whole food options like brown rice, wholemeal bread and fruit as opposed to chocolate, chips and other processed snacks. Also, inflammation is an important part of your body's healing process, but you can really take it from being helpful to a hindrance if you're eating highly processed foods that are high in sugars, fat and salt.

Always fruit and vegetables. These should be a big part of your diet anyway, but they are even more important when you are recovering from injury. They are high in vitamins like C and E that your body needs for tissue repair. And if you're having surgery then you need these nutrients even more, simply because of the additional stress it puts on your body.

And finally - be careful of what you read on the internet! I've heard some crazy things about people cutting whole food groups out of their diets thinking they will heal more quickly. A good example was a man who cut dairy out of his diet while he was recovering from a fracture because he read somewhere it causes inflammation. Massive facepalm. Don't do that. Calcium is good for healing bones. At least if you're going to do that, go seek out professional advice so you can make sure you're getting all of the nutrients you need from non-animal sources.

Happy riding!

Post-op hand
Post-op hand. New bling.

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