Help Avoid Athletic Injury with These Nutritional Tips

Warming up before exercise is one way to avoid athletic injury, but it’s also important to
employ proper training techniques and practice good nutrition. Keeping your body healthy will Nutritionhelp you achieve peak performance and prevent many common athletic injuries, according to sports nutrition experts.

Eat Regular, Healthy Meals

Keeping your body healthy for sports participation means maintaining a balanced diet and practicing sound nutritional habits throughout the day. Making informed food choices promotes overall health, reduces the risk of disease and builds healthy muscle, bone and joint tissue. Maintaining a strong, healthy body is the most effective way for physically active people to avoid common sports injuries.

Experts recommend eating small meals or healthy snacks at regular intervals throughout the day, about every three to four hours. Be sure to include a variety of nutrient-dense foods from all food groups, including protein, whole grains, dairy, fruits and vegetables, along with healthy fats.

Stay Hydrated

Did you know that you lose about one pound of body fluids for every one to two hours of intense exercise?

Dehydration reduces athletic performance and makes your muscles more susceptible to damage. Water keeps muscles lubricated, so be sure to drink enough before, during and after exercise. The National Library of Medicine recommends drinking 16 to 20 ounces of water at least four hours prior to athletic activity, and an additional 8 to 12 ounces 10 to 15 minutes before exercise. During exercise, drink 3 to 8 fluid ounces every 15 to 20 minutes.

If you plan to play sports or work out for longer than an hour, a healthy sports drink can help replace lost fluids, electrolytes and the carbohydrates you’ll need to sustain your energy levels.

Practice Post-Workout Recovery Nutrition

After a hard workout, your body’s muscle tissue must repair and rebuild itself. The specialized field of recovery nutrition uses scientific principles to help athletes replenish key nutrients to facilitate recovery and build strength. To achieve this goal, scientists recommend a combination of protein, carbohydrates, electrolytes and fluids to achieve the three Rs — carbs help refuel your energy, proteins help rebuild muscles and fluids and electrolytes help rehydrate your body.

Research suggests that, for optimal muscle recovery, a carbohydrate and protein snack should be eaten within 30 to 60 minutes after exercise. Depending on your age and weight, your snack should include 20 to 25 grams of protein, along with two to four times as many grams of carbohydrates.

A protein drink, yogurt fruit smoothie, or a peanut butter and banana sandwich on whole wheat bread are all good post-workout snack choices. Finally, drink 20 to 24 ounces of water or a sports drink to replenish lost fluids.

Sprains, strains, rotator cuff or ACL tears and other injuries frequently occur as a result of physical activity. The odds of injury increase significantly if you don’t put the right nutrients in your body.

The professionals at Steward Health Care: Centers of Orthopedic & Sports Medicine in West Jordan, Utah, offer exceptional sports medicine and orthopedic care in our state-of-the-art facilities. Our services are designed to keep you healthy and moving, and to help you avoid athletic injury.


This article reviewed by Dr. Travis McDonald.