The Science Behind Injury Recovery

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You may be a professional athlete or someone who lives an active lifestyle, but either way, there may come a time when you have to deal with an injury.

When you suffer an injury, it’s a good idea to make recovery a priority, and there are a variety of factors that will influence the length of time it takes you to recover. You can’t train like your injury doesn’t exist because that will compromise your recovery, weaken your muscles, and you might even injure yourself. You will increase the likelihood of infections.

It’s easier than you might think to promote recovery. If you’re willing to try adopting a few essential daily habits, you’ll be pleased to find that you recover from injuries faster.


Eating the right combination of foods can help you recover faster from injury. Monitor your diet closely to ensure you’re getting essential nutrients and antioxidants.

Omega 3 Fatty Acids

Essential fatty acids are critical for anyone injured and needing to regulate inflammation in the body, as prolonged inflammation may slow down your recovery. Eating foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids can help reduce excessive swelling from inflammation.

Omega-3 fatty acids help to fight inflammation and enhance collagen formation. Studies have indicated that omega-3 could also help improve bone and joint health and that an increase in omega-3s can help improve bone strength by increasing the amount of calcium in bones.

These fatty acids can also help reduce muscle loss that might typically result from a lack of mobility in the injured area. Even better, researchers believe omega 3 fatty acids may help your body repair and build muscle.

Omega-3 rich foods include:

• Flaxseeds

• Soybeans

• Walnuts

• Wild rice

• Mackerel

• Chia seeds


Beyond healthy fat balance, certain dietary herbs can help manage inflammation. Garlic has been shown to inhibit the activity of specific inflammatory enzymes. The recommended dose is 2-4 g of whole garlic clove each day (each clove is 1 g) or 600-1200 mg of supplemental aged garlic extract.


The growth hormone, synthesized in the pituitary gland, travels to the liver, which then responds by producing Insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I). IGF-1 is made in response to growth hormone and is needed for growth hormone to affect muscles and other tissues. Available at anti-ageing clinics, it plays a crucial role in tissue repair and muscle regeneration and can reduce age-related loss of muscle function. Proof that, at least in animals, it can heal tendon injuries and build muscles has drawn lots of attention.

Collagen is the predominant structural protein in tendons and ligaments and can be controlled by hormonal changes. In animals, insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I) injections have been shown to increase collagen synthesis in tendons and ligaments and improve structural tissue healing. Still, the effect of local IGF-I administration on tendon collagen synthesis in humans has not been studied.


A healthy lifestyle that includes regular exercise and adequate sleep can make the difference if you want to recover quickly from an injury. The right habits can help you cope with the pain or other symptoms you may experience due to the injury.

Stay active

Appropriate workouts, approved or recommended by your physiotherapist, will strengthen muscles, joints, and other tissues and stimulate the release of endorphins. Endorphins make up the feel-good group of hormones responsible for balancing emotions and blocking pain, so they can help to alleviate pain and discomfort.

Low-impact exercises like walking, bicycling, and swimming are particularly useful if incorporated into the recovery process. You can also use a balance board for exercising without compromising your recovery, as they have personalised programs that will help you.

Foam rolling/self-myofascial release

This is a form of soft tissue therapy that has proven useful because it mainly focuses on your nerve and connective tissues. When foam rolling is done consistently, it can correct muscle imbalances, improve range of motion, relieve muscle soreness, and relax your muscles.

The RICE Method

The R.I.C.E method stands for Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. It is a frequently recommended recovery technique to help treat injuries and promote healing:

  • Rest: Immobilization prevents further damage and gives the body time to recover.
  • Ice: Cold reduces pain by numbing the affected area.
  • Compression: Pressure keeps swelling under control.
  • Elevation: Keeping the injured body part above the heart reduces swelling and the associated pain and discomfort.

Intermittent Heat

Heat therapy does the opposite of cold treatments and allows the blood vessels to expand and our muscles to relax. When you apply heat, it creates a soothing effect because it stimulates circulation, increases tissue elasticity, and provides pain relief. Intermittent heat therapy works well for:

  • Muscle pain or soreness
  • Stiff joints
  • Arthritis
  • Old/recurring injuries

Heat therapy is generally not to be used after activity. Heat can be applied with a hot, wet towel or heating pad/pack. A hot bath or shower may also relieve pain. It is essential to avoid using heat for an extended amount of time, and you should never sleep with a heating treatment. Usually, 20-minute increments are most effective.

Good Sleep

If you don’t get enough sleep, you may find that your recovery slows down. Sleep deprivation is the last thing you need when you’re recovering from an injury. While you’re asleep, growth hormone is released, which stimulates growth, helps cellular reproduction, and regulates your body’s metabolism to repair itself. Another important hormone is Prolactin, which is released during deep sleep and has anti-inflammatory properties. Getting seven to nine hours of sleep per night is key to your recovery.

Topical Analgesics

Topical analgesics are an option in the treatment of chronic pain. They include lidocaine, diclofenac, and capsaicin. There has been a resurgence of interest in topical treatments for pain management because therapeutic doses of medication can be applied directly to a painful site, bypassing the gastrointestinal tract and avoiding needing a needle.

Boosters and Vitamins

Add adequate amounts of these vital substances to your recovery regime for faster and improved healing.

Vitamin C

Our ligaments are collagen, and Vitamin C is a crucial vitamin for inflammation reduction, tissue repair, and collagen production. It is advised to increase your intake of Vitamin C immediately after an injury to help support the healing process. Vitamin C also increases iron absorption, so doctors will often prescribe Vitamin C supplements with iron supplements, as iron is one of the minerals recommended for ligament repair. Your body cannot produce Vitamin C, as it is water-soluble, so you need to get it from your food or supplements.

Fortunately, Vitamin C is one of the most accessible vitamins to get enough of through your diet. It is currently unclear if supplements provide any benefits for those already getting enough Vitamin C from their diet.


Your body needs Vitamin C to produce collagen naturally. It is recommended that you take collagen with Vitamin C. It should be noted that collagen also deteriorates in the body with age. Collagen is an amino acid, the main structural protein that forms your connective tissues and skin. It is the critical building block for tendons, ligaments, and fascia, and it helps maintain the integrity of your cartilage, which is the tissue that protects your joints.


It is always essential to ensure you’re getting enough calcium, especially when recovering from an injury. Calcium is a critical component in bones and teeth, and it is involved in muscle contractions and nerve signalling.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D helps your body absorb the calcium, and together with calcium, it is vital when you’re recovering from a bone injury. Only a few foods naturally contain vitamin D, but your body can make vitamin D from exposure to the sun. Those living in northern climates or spending a limited amount of time outdoors may require supplements to get enough vitamin D.


Your body naturally produces glucosamine. It is found in the fluid surrounding your joints and is involved in the creation of tendons, ligaments, and cartilage. You can also increase your glucosamine levels through supplements, which are generally made either from shellfish shells or fermented corn.

Based on various studies’ findings, some people take glucosamine supplements to help reduce pain after joint and bone injuries or to speed up recovery from fractures. However, more research is needed before firm conclusions can be made.

Bone Strengtheners

Other vitamins and minerals thought to promote bone strength include Vitamins K1 and K2, which boosts natural calcium toward bones, magnesium, silicon, boron, inositol, and arginine.

Final Thoughts

It is almost inevitable that soft tissue inflammation will occur in response to the injury as your immune system detects something is wrong and kicks into overdrive. Training, therapy, and intermittent heat treatment can help immensely. It is also important to remember that adequate sleep, the right food, and supplements can speed healing during your recovery period. It also helps if you stay active, stretch, and get regular exercise to aid the healing process.


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