When you hear the words diet and nutrition, most people immediately turn their thoughts to weight and physical appearance. However, what you eat has far-reaching consequences beyond simply numbers on a scale.
You’ve probably heard the expression, “you are what you eat.” While this isn’t to suggest that you will magically transform into a literal potato, what you choose to fuel your body will significantly impact your overall health, mood, and physical fitness. Good nutrition can be particularly important as you embark on manual therapy physiotherapy treatments to aid in your recovery from an injury or chronic pain.
Here’s why, in addition to manual therapy, physiotherapists typically recommend patients maintain a balanced diet while working to restore their physical health.
Inflammation is your immune system’s way of fighting off an infection or healing itself after injury. But while inflammation plays an essential role in the recovery process, excess inflammation can have negative consequences, including pain, swelling, and loss of mobility.
While medication and manual therapy physiotherapy can help reduce the adverse effects of excess inflammation, what you eat can also play an important role. Foods like red meats, dairy, simple carbohydrates (like white rice, cereal, and chips), and heavily processed foods or those containing added sugars are generally proinflammatory and can contribute to slower recovery times.
On the other hand, a diet rich in Omega-3s, fiber, and antioxidants can help reduce inflammation and support recovery. Foods your physiotherapist might suggest from these categories include fatty fish (like salmon), brightly coloured vegetables, leafy greens, nuts, citrus fruits, berries, and grapes.
For many, recovering from an injury can mean taking a step back from regular training or, at the very least modifying exercise. This immobilization of a specific area can result in that muscle group losing some of its mass and strength. While your manual therapy physiotherapy treatments will mitigate this loss and help prevent muscle deterioration, you can reinforce treatments by providing your body with adequate fuel sources; for muscles, this means protein.
Protein-rich foods help to build lean muscle while supporting tissue repair and renewal. Protein can be found in many foods, including meat, fish, poultry, eggs, nuts and seeds, and tofu. Not only will adding these protein-rich foods to your diet help reduce muscle loss while you recover, but it will also lay the building blocks to rebuild muscle faster post-recovery.
Vitamins and crucial to overall good health, they aid in everything from supporting our immune systems and reducing inflammation to helping bones, joints, and muscle tissue recovers from an injury.
Depending on the nature of your injury, your physiotherapist might suggest adding foods rich in zinc, vitamin C, vitamin D, and calcium. Zinc is crucial in repairing wounded tissue, vitamin D and calcium are instrumental in helping heal broken bones, while Omega-3 and vitamin C are powerful inflammation-fighting tools.
Vitamin-rich foods that can help you check these boxes include citrus fruits, peppers, leafy greens, berries, broccoli, fish, nuts and seeds, and whole grains.
The proper diet can help you make the most out of your manual therapy physiotherapy sessions, streamlining your recovery and getting you back to doing the things you enjoy sooner.