Fall is a great time of year for outdoor activities and sports but that can also mean injuries. Have you wondered why professional athletes seem to be recovering from injury or surgery so quickly? It's definitely a combination of the athletes’ access to the best doctors and the most advanced rehab technology available; but more and more research have shown that nutrition during recovery time plays a key role in how fast and effectively you heal.
“Depending on the injury, traditional methods like icing, massage, compression, rest, strength work, and elevation are all successful treatments for injuries; however, to completely heal an injury, time off is almost always a necessary element," says Dr. Scott Weiss, a board certified athletic trainer, licensed physical therapist and co-founder of Bodhizone, physical therapy and wellness center in New York City. In 2012, Scott was selected to be a member of the United States sports medical team for the Olympic Games in London where he provided emergency medical and physical therapy services to the U.S. Sailing Team. He also served as part of the USOC sports medical team in the 2004 Athens and 2008 Beijing Games. "But, is there anything you can do nutritionally during this waiting period to help decrease healing time and get back to your top performance level? Yes!"
According to Scott, your body is built to heal from the inside out and nutrition plays a vital role in the healing of injuries. If you provide the right foods and nutrients to your body during the time of healing the duration of an injury can be shortened.
If you happen to be fighting a nagging injury or have just recently gotten hurt, Dr. Weiss suggests adding the following foods and nutrients to your diet to help get back on track with your training and allow your body to be at its best. Even if you do not currently have any aches or pains, adding these foods into your diet can help prepare your body for healing if you should happen to get hurt.
Foods Rich in Vitamin C - Examples include: citrus, berries and kiwi
Vitamin C plays an important role in the healing process by building new protein for the skin, scar tissue, tendons, ligaments and blood vessels. Vitamin C also helps our bodies maintain cartilage and bone tissues. In addition to the healing properties, Vitamin C offers internal protection against free radicals. Free radicals are molecules in our body that can cause significant damage and come from our external environment, such as the foods we eat, high intensity workouts (like running), and chemicals we are exposed to.
Foods Rich in Vitamin A - Examples include: sweet potatoes and winter squash
Vitamin A promotes the production of white blood cells in your body. White blood cells are the main “keepers of the injury”; they help fight off infection and viruses. Even if you don’t have a visual injury like an open wound, your body will still rely on the production of white blood cells to protect the injury and increase the rate of healing.
Foods Rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids - Examples include: salmon and walnuts
Many research studies have found that omega-3 fatty acids have the ability to reduce inflammation, so much so that other painkillers and drug may not be needed. Most of these studies have been conducted on individuals with rheumatoid arthritis or other cases of extreme inflammation. The results of these numerous studies indicate that high quality omega-3s will reduce inflammation from an injury or daily run. Reducing the swelling and inflammation around an injury will reduce the pain you may be experiencing and promote healing!
Foods Rich in Zinc - Examples include: nuts and chicken
Every single tissue in your body contains zinc; therefore, it becomes very important in the healing process of any injury. Zinc will help your body use the fats and proteins you consume to promote growth and healing of the injured tissue.
Zinc will also help keep your immune system strong, much like Vitamin A, which will protect you from other infections or viruses.
Foods Rich in Protein - Examples include: beef and eggs
An injury to the body automatically increases the body’s demand for protein. Protein is required in multiple processes that take place as soon as the injury happens and through the injury recovery time. How quickly and how well the injury heals can largely depend on consuming adequate amounts of high quality protein. Therefore, it is essential that runners who are hurt shift their diet from a high carbohydrate to high protein.
Meet Dr. Scott Weiss, D.P.T., A.T., CSCS.
Dr. Scott Weiss is a licensed physical therapist and board certified athletic trainer in the state of New York. He is also a registered exercise physiologist, strength and conditioning specialist and advanced personal trainer with over fifteen years of experience. Scott possesses both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in exercise physiology and a doctorate in physical therapy. His affiliations and certifications with all the major certifying bodies domestically and internationally like the United States Olympic Committee (USOC), the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA), National Athletic Trainers Association (NATA), International Federation of Sports Medicine (FIMS), American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), American Society of Exercise Physiologist (ASEP), allows him to be a consultant to collegiate, professional and Olympic athletes as well as a trainer to the stars. Throughout his career he had the pleasure and good fortune to work with some of the world’s elite athletes. These include several United States Olympic Teams, National Football League (NFL), National Hockey League (NHL) and the New York Liberty-WNBA. In 2012, Scott was selected to be a member of the United States sports medical team for the Olympic Games in London where he provided emergency medical and physical therapy services to the U.S. Sailing Team. He also served as part of the USOC sports medical team in the 2004 Athens and 2008 Beijing Games.
Scott’s emphasis of research and area of expertise in physical therapy is rehabilitation of the knee and shoulder. As a registered exercise physiologist, his interests are in biomechanics of movement and cardiac rehabilitation. As an author and lecturer, Dr. Weiss has written a myriad of articles and has lectured in almost every university in greater New York. His lectures and articles are on the prevention of exercise injures, flexibility, weight-loss and integrative medicine. Many of these articles can be seen on this website.
His clinical experience over the years fostered his ideas into research so far that he has been published in peer reviewed medical journals. Scott also lectures for both profit and non-profit organizations on exercise, nutrition, public health, safety and first aid. Dr. Weiss is involved with charitable organizations and gives his time freely to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, The Boomer Esiasion Foundation, Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, NY Road Runners Club (NYC Marathon), Long Island Transplant Organization and many high-schools and colleges in New York State.
Scott is presently the owner and clinical director of Bodhizone for Human Performance & Sports Physical Therapy, PC. He has four offices in New York City, midtown east, upper east side, down in gramercy and in Astoria, Queens. A physical therapy or fitness session at Bodhizone is guaranteed to be unique and effective each and every time. Scott and his staff combine yoga, martial arts, sports, physical therapy and functional strength training into many of the workouts, enabling you the patient, to heal while improving your overall health and fitness level. Bodhizone specializes in creating sport specific workouts for all sports and customizing physical and fitness training sessions to meet your rehabilitation goals and needs of your body.