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Nutrition for Injury Recovery: Part 1 of 4

Written by Cheryl Schwieters, BS, LPTA, CSCS, Pn1
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Cheryl SchwietersIn the world of physical therapy the main goal for patients is to get them healed as quickly as possible to return to normal life. Often, there are protocols to follow that initially require limited actions and restricted movement. Patients frequently ask, “Is there anything I can do to help speed up my recovery?” Feeding our bodies with appropriate nutrients and supplements is one way to assist the healing process. In the next four articles we will address the phases of injury as well as what foods and supplements that benefit each stage of recovery to aid the bodily process.

Nutrtion for recovery percision nutritionAn injury can be considered planned or unplanned. A planned injury may be something like a scheduled total knee replacement where an unplanned injury my look more like a slip on the sidewalk that results in a torn rotator cuff or a sprained ankle during a basketball game. Both, however, are broken down into the same three distinct phases; inflammatory, proliferation and remodeling. These phases will span from day one up to two years! Each phase has many helpful foods and to assist in healing but first let me describe which each phase may look like to you:

Phase 1- Acute phase Days 1-7

Coagulation: 1-2 days post trauma – the body is bleeding and working to stop it

Inflammation: 1-7 days post trauma – site becomes swollen, red and painful

Phase 2- Proliferation(rebuilding) Days 4-21 post trauma

Injury site is beginning to repair itself

Chemicals are removing debris

Tissues are rebuilding a framework to their structure

Scar tissue is laying down

Phase 3- Remodeling Days 5 – 2years

Changes to rebuilt structures from previous phase to become stronger and more like original structure

Adding exercise and stretching to create a healed injury site


There are foods and supplements that can be helpful to feed every level of healing. In the next few weeks I will be discussing in depth what foods are beneficial in each phase – stay tuned!

Fast Fact: Did you know that not all structures heal in the same time? Tissues with better blood supply like muscle and skin heal faster than those which have a lower supply like ligament, tendon and bone.

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