Any athlete, irrespective of age, nature, or type of sport, can suffer an injury setback. And any serious injury can jeopardize your career.
An athlete gets injured because the cells in the body are under stress. Every athlete subjects themselves to hours and hours of training, so when a cell is their human body, it has energy reserves. The energy reserves are in the form of the carbohydrate, protein, and fat.
A cell’s structure is predominantly based on the cellular material, and a key component is water. So for me as the sports nutritionist its hydration.
If we can take care of hydration and most athletes get dehydrated, did you know that an average athlete loses 1 percent of their body weight during one to two hours of sports performance.
By the time you’ve lost 2% you’re lost nearly 30% of mental cognition, it is during these periods of daily training where your body hydration index starts dropping.
When it starts dropping, you obviously know your muscles require electrolytes and are found in the water inside these cells.
The electrolytes allow for the on and off of the muscle, which is the contraction and muscle relaxation.
When this signal goes haywire, the muscles become tightened. When a muscle gets tensed, and you’re stretching, you’re jumping, and you’re leaping, you’re sprinting, you could push the muscle beyond the boundaries of its comfort zone.
Now how does nutrition work? so my physiotherapist friends will say it is biomechanics i.e., whether the muscle is short, long, tight, loose, biomechanically aligned or not.
There’s so much that you know you can learn with a good physiotherapist and a sports biomechanics expert. Still, beyond that from injury, I believe the food we put into your body as soon as you finish training is essential.
There is a window of recovery from 1 to 3 hours; for example, muscle glycogen is non-insulin recoverable at the first hour, which means the amount of glucose equivalent to your weight should be banged into your body within half an hour of finishing your training. Caffeine helps in the replenishment of glycogen faster.
But what if glycogen is not getting replenished faster? One molecule of glycogen is stated to whole 3 molecules of water. When you put this together, if there is a lack of one molecule of glycogen and the 3 molecules of water will not happen.
This means that cells will be less hydrated and will not get the required nutrition. All nutrients are water’s best buddies, and glucose is vital to get them to reach the cells. So when nutrition is not taken care of, injury happens from the simple thing of not having glucose.
Let me give another example, your ligaments, cartilage & tissues require certain amino acids. Now, these amino acids don’t come from whey protein, they comes from bone broth soup, collagen peptide, hyaluronic acid, glucosamine.
You need to deliver these raw materials to the human body. When athletes want to prevent injury having a carefully balanced nutrition program is a key to having a longer shelf life as an athlete.
You want to play for 20 years and stay injury-free; the idea is to get your nutrition to perfection. You do not slip up, you do not have cheat meals, you only strive for perfection because every day, you are subjecting your body to physical & emotional torture.
That torture is dependent on the recovery, and if you have the right food and supplements going into your body, the recovery process enhances.
Once you have the right kind of nutrition going into the body, the next step is to identify the right quantities, and then the third step is to know the right timings.
When you put all of these together, you have perfection in nutrition and the prevention of injuries.
What happens if you get injured?
When you get injured, you have damaged tissue, and you have scar tissue forming. Let me explain this to you in straightforward language; imagine you have a house, and i decide to break the wall to put a new window.
Now to do this, should I break the wall and then call up the contractor to fix it? It will take the contractor 5-6 days to put together everything.
Or should I, before starting the project of breaking down the wall, keep all the raw material and workforce ready, so that the moment wall is broken, it can be covered and healed up within 24 hours.
That’s an injury for you. You get injured, your body has all of these miraculous genetic molecules, ever noticed that our body is designed to heal?
You cut yourself, and within two weeks, you’re healed back up again. So we have all these molecules inside of us, but in a sports injury, microscopic trauma happens every day, inside your muscle, tissue, ligament, cartilage, skin everywhere injuries happening.
Everything depends on the quality of the raw material being available, let me give an example; I remember once one of my squash athlete clients called me from the ambulance after he had a hamstring tear.
So I told him to arrange glutamine, ginger, purple cabbage quickly and shared my “within 48-hour injury recovery guidelines” with him.
When the healing is happening, the body is getting the correct nutrition in the right quantity, and you’re preventing scar tissue from the formation.
So I have seen like I remember Shikhar Dhawan had a hairline fracture, and the doctors said that he would be out for a considerable period. I used every possible trick in the nutrition book to help in healing.
There are scholarly articles on how right from collagen, gelatin, not CV gelatin but animal gelatin, helps repair bone matrix and cartilage matrix.
When you have an injury, take anti-inflammatory foods, reduce inflammation, but it’s just anti-inflammatory foods or painkillers that will help repair tissues. It’s your vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and fatty acids to help rebuild the matrix back again.
Massive mistake that athletes commit are thinking that they can eat whatever they want since they are injured and not training.
Guess what, you end up put on five kgs of weight because of an injury. So when you come back to training, you would need to work double hard.
But your mitochondria have decreased in every cell because you’ve taken the data off for five weeks, so you have to work even harder with extra weight, and you might miss the slot of going to the Olympics.
It annoys me when I see the athlete’s laid-back attitude towards injury recovery. I’m like, dude, what’s wrong with you?
You’re an elite vehicle; your engine is broken, you need to put the right fuel to recover that engine.
But most of the athletes look at this period as a holiday; no, it doesn’t work like this. You’re committed to being an athlete once in your life. You have but a lifetime of ten years, maybe if you are lucky not to get injured.
The issue is in India; they’re still debating whether we should do nutrition while the world has gone ahead where nutrition is the basic foundation; they have gone on to performance nutrition, performance supplementation, tracking of heart rates, tracking of enzymes, probably everything possible under the sun.
At the time of injury, the next 48 hours are crucial. I can’t stress this enough, but if you want to save your career and prevent yourself from injuries or are injured right now, pick up the phone now, call us at +91-9743430000, talk to our sports specialist nutritionist and let’s see how we can help you.
Ryan Fernando is an Award-winning celebrity Sports Nutritionist with 2GUINNESS world record and 2 Olympic medals under his belt. His client list include Olympic wrestler Sushil Kumar, cricketer Shikhar Dhawan & bollywood superstars Aamir Khan & Abhishek Bachchan. He is Chief Nutritionist at QUA Nutrition Signature Clinics.