Prevent Injury with Nutrition

Prevent Injury with Nutrition  By Brittany Saxton

Preventing injury is not always top of mind for an athlete or coach and when it is, it’s common to forget how much of a role nutrition plays here. Preventing injury seems and feels like a complicated thing, but it’s not. We can keep it pretty simple if we stay mindful of some of those most important things when it comes to minimizing the risk of injury.

What are those things we need to pay more attention to? As a coach, parent or athlete ask yourself these two questions:

  1. Is the athlete properly hydrated?
  2. Is the athlete properly fueled with food?

If we want our athletes to perform at their best AND avoid injury, then it is CRUCIAL they are properly fueled and hydrated.

So, let’s jump into hydration and why it is so important for preventing injury…

Take a fatigued athlete that now has a lack of coordination, what do we have? RISK OF INJURY!

So, first, let’s get these athletes hydrated! Here is how:

The athlete should be consuming water before, during, and after training. In addition to water, they may also want to add in an electrolyte supplement/high-quality sea salt to ensure they are not missing out on any key minerals like sodium, potassium, and chloride.

Note: you will consume these minerals in a well-rounded diet, but given athletes are sweating a lot, they will lose sodium quicker than the average person, so why supplementation may be needed.

Here is a quick breakdown of how much and when to consume water:

  • Before Training: Approx 17-20oz, 2 hours prior to training
  • During Training: Approx 7-10oz every 10-20 mins of training
  • After Training: 16-24oz for every lb of BW lost or until urine is pale yellow

Now that we have hydration covered, let’s jump into the importance of nutrition when it comes to injury prevention.

When bodies are not properly fueled, they are at risk of blood sugar dysregulation, specifically lower than normal blood sugar levels which means the body and brain will not have the energy source it requires to perform at their best. Athletes rely on normal blood sugar levels to fuel their brains and muscles. If the brain and muscles are not getting what they need, athletes will slow and their reaction/response time could be putting the athlete at risk. The slower reaction time leads to a lack of coordination which we mentioned earlier. Again, this is a side effect of dehydration but also a lack of nutrition.

So it’s obvious now that nutrition is VERY important when it comes to preventing injury. Let’s dive into what the athlete should be consuming to ensure they are prepared for training.

They will want to fuel themselves with nutritious foods throughout the day, prior to and after training. Not only will this help prevent injury but it is crucial for performance and recovery as well.

Outside of training (hours before training and post-training) the athlete should be filling their plate with healthy fats, protein, and complex carbohydrates/fiber. Closer to training times, the focus should be on protein and simple carbohydrates. It’s important they are simple carbohydrates as we get closer to training so that they break down and digest quickly. Otherwise, the athlete could experience discomfort when training begins due to the body still digesting foods.

Lastly, depending on the length of training, the athlete may want to fuel with some additional simple carbohydrates throughout the practice/game.

Some examples of the different types of carbs:

  • Complex carbs: Veggies/Potatoes, Fruits, Legumes/Beans, Grains
  • Simple carbs: Honey, Fruit Snacks, Candy, Sports Drinks, Fruit Juices

Be sure to check out our resources for some more examples of what to eat pre, during, post-training!

As a coach, parent, or athlete yourself, do your due diligence to set these young athletes up for success by fueling them with proper nutrition and hydration!

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