Nutrition's Role in Soft Tissue Injury Recovery

Give your athletes the information they need to develop proper nutrition strategies when recovering from an injury.
May 16, 2019
Icon / Markup Tools / Highlighter / White Created with Sketch.
Click and drag the text to create personal notes and highlights that save to your profile.
Got it

Proper nutrition is one key to coming back strong. Giving your athlete nutrition strategies, like consuming anti-inflammatory foods, may promote quicker recovery and improve tendon and ligament health.

General diet tips that may support recovery from injury

*Copper-rich foods include:

  • Cashews
  • High-quality cocoa powder (high in flavonoids)
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Lentils
  • Oysters
  • Brazil nuts
  • Beans
  • Nuts and seeds, in general

Following a soft-tissue injury, tissues follow a similar healing timeline

Phase 1: Inflammation

  • Mild inflammation begins the healing process, but the goal is to limit excessive inflammation.
  • After injury, blood flow increases and the immune system release defense cells to the injury site.
  • This “clean-up crew” removes debris and sets the stage for re-building

Nutritional strategies: Consuming anti-inflammatory foods such as omega-3s, tumeric/curcumin may help reduce inflammation

Phase 2: Proliferation

  • During proliferation, disorganized tissue is laid down

Nutritional strategies: Consume sufficient calories to support healing and reduce the risk of nutrient deficiencies

Phase 3: Remodeling

  • During remodeling, type 3 collagen is replaced by type 1 collagen
  • Collagen fibers start to organize

Nutritional strategies: Emerging research suggests that collagen supplementation may help grow stronger tendons and ligaments

  1. Jung MK, et al. Alcohol exposure and mechanisms of tissue injury and repair. Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 35(3): 392–399, 2011.
  2. Tipton KD. Nutritional support for exercise-induced injuries. Sports Med. 45: 93–104, 2015.
  3. Herchenhan A, et al. Lysyl oxidase activity is required for ordered collagen fibrillogenesis by tendon cells. J Biol Chem. 290(26): 16440–16450, 2015.
  4. Wu F, Nerlich M, Docheva D. Tendon injuries. EFFORT Open Rev. 2(70):332-342, 2017.
  5. K Baar. Minimizing injury and maximizing return to play: Lessons from engineered ligaments. Sports Med. 47(Suppl 1): 5–11, 2017