There are many ways to prevent sports injuries, from stretching out before and after your workouts to doing strength training on the regular. Your diet plays a big part, too. By supplying the nutrients your body needs to recover quickly and completely from each workout, you’ll help prevent larger mishaps from ever occurring—and even those will heal up that much faster if you stock up on these five foods.
Mixing prepared wheat germ into a bowl of oatmeal or a protein shake infuses your body with vitamin E, which helps repair connective tissues and protect cell membranes from further damage. It also supplies a massive boost of B vitamins, which help reduce inflammation and prompt the body to fix up wounds and rebuild collagen, ensuring your joints stay mobile and pain-free.
Dark leafy greens contain a raft of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrients, such as vitamin C, that help reduce muscle and joint soreness and also increase your body’s capacity for more punishment down the line. The bioflavonoids found in strawberries and blueberries act in much the same way. Combine their strengths by blending them with your favourite beverage and some protein powder to create a great post-workout recovery smoothie.
The Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids present in certain fish can speed up your recovery, especially if you’ve strained a joint or tendon. The acids help increase tissue elasticity, muscle flexibility and joint motion, plus reduce inflammation that can hamper recovery. The large amount of lean protein doesn’t hurt either, with fish providing around 21 grams of the muscle-friendly stuff per three-ounce portion. The Gatorade Sports Science Institute recommends that basketball players eat around 1.4-1.7 grams of protein per kilogram of their body weight every day.
Packed with protein, calcium and vitamin D, cheeses and other dairy products help heal your muscles and bones. The latter two nutrients are especially important if you’re suffering from a stress fracture or a more serious type of break, as they work in tandem. For athletic men over 18, they receive at least 1,300 milligrams of vitamin D per day, and at least 1,000 milligrams of calcium to stay healthy.
Quick caveat: we didn’t say these will be the most appetizing foods, only the best for your recovery. Although protein is one of the key nutrients for rebuilding a torn muscle, joint and tendon recovery is radically boosted by the dose of gelatin and minerals that an NBA-approved bone broth can offer. The stew contains everything your body needs to create new bone cells and repair collagen, including calcium, magnesium and silicon. It’s cheap and fairly easy to make—there are a slew of recipes available online.