Anyone who has trained or competed at any level of sport, from casual rec leagues and 5Ks to the peak of sport at the Olympic and professional level, knows injuries are a fact of life. As many of us know, injuries can keep us from maintaining our training and gains. They can also impact physical and mental health due to disruptions in schedules, function, and general quality of life. Practicing self-care, assessing injury severity, and taking control of the rehabilitation process are all key to ensuring a quick and complete recovery.
The injury process takes a toll on the body physically and biologically; a well-designed rehabilitation plan will combine external physical treatments, such as massage, compression, and cooling therapies, with internal biological strategies to ensure the body is meeting its caloric and nutrient needs to promote recovery and repair.
The teams at Hyperice and Thorne have teamed up with the experts at the UFC Performance Institute to provide some guidelines to give you a fighting chance to recover quickly from injury and return to your pre-injury level of competition.
As Clint Wattenberg, Director of Nutrition at the UFCPI explains: “The interplay of physical and nutritional therapies in supporting an athlete’s injury recovery dramatically improves the recovery and regeneration processes. This is core to the UFC Performance Institute’s philosophy of integrated care by demonstrating the opportunities available when performance sciences combine to provide an outcome greater than the sum of each individual part. Inflammation, pain management, immune function, and tissue repair are just some of the variables that both physical and nutritional therapies combine to influence to return athletes back to their sport more quickly and permanently.”
Physical Strategies: External
The UFC Performance Institute recommends the “POLICE” method
Protection – Protecting a new injury allows you to prevent worsening the damage or prolonging recovery time
Optimal Loading – Balancing resting an injured area to allow it to heal, while still challenging the affected area to return to normal function
Ice- Ice and cooling therapy (link) and applying cooling techniques, supports pain relief and allows the ability to exercise and rehab injured areas. Shorter, more frequent cooling sessions are recommended over longer sessions
Compression – Applying compression (link) around an injured body part helps reduce swelling, lessening the impact of swelling on function and rehabilitation efforts
Elevation – Elevating the injured body part above heart height while at rest helps drain swelling around an injury, which helps restore function.
Nutrition Strategies: Internal
The UFC Performance Institute prioritizes its nutrition considerations into five categories.
Energy – Total calorie requirements need to be assessed. Daily calorie intake needs can increase by 1.2 times in minor injuries and up to 1.5 times for severe injuries and illness. Although training volume might decrease following injury, we must account for caloric demands.
Protein – Higher protein intakes, around 1 gram of protein per pound body weight per day consumed throughout the day best maintains muscle mass and strength during an injury.
Micronutrients – Ensuring your calories come from nutrient-dense, plant-based foods and including “healthy fats” enables the body to consume the wide variety of vitamins and nutrients needed to promote wound healing and tissue repair.
Sports Foods – Supplemental foods, such as protein and greens powders, as well as multi-vitamin/mineral supplements, helps address energy, protein, and micronutrient needs, especially when appetite is poor.
Supplements – After addressing the needs prioritized above, recovery, therapy, and rehabilitation can be enhanced with the addition of supplements like Creatine Monohydrate, Omega-3s, Curcumin, Probiotics, Vitamins C and D and Amino Acids like leucine.
Along with these strategies, the UFC sports science staff recommends the following:
MOVE – Begin physical activity and movement around the injured area as early as possible, pay attention to your body’s limitations, and consult with a health-care professional to guide your efforts.
REST – Because healing occurs at rest, be mindful of ensuring your body gets ample physical and mental rest, with particular attention paid to sleep. Accounting for extra rest will increase healing and shorten recovery time.
RECOVER – Although the urge to push through the pain and rush back to training can be intense, listening to your body and not rushing rehabilitation or returning to full training is imperative to remaining healthy while decreasing the risk of additional damage or re-injury. Having a thorough warm up and recovery routine is imperative to preventing injury and performing at your best. Warming up with the Hypervolt percussion massage gun, along with recovery in the Normatec dynamic air compression boots, can increase circulation to certain muscle groups and decrease swelling post exercise.
SEEK ADVICE – Sports medicine and performance staffs jhave experts in different fields. Arming yourself with the education and understanding to implement your injury plan will ultimately lead to the best results. Hyperice, Thorne, and the UFC PI have a wealth of information to provide the advice and expertise that can guide your rehabilitation and get you back training and competing at your highest level.