Nutrition Guidelines to Optimize ACL Rehab

November 21, 2012 | Renaldo Wilson

Must See Sports Injuries Videos

From surgery to bracing to a combined surgical repair-reconstruction, there are many ways to approach rehabilitation following an ACL injury, depending upon its severity. (See The Athlete's Guide to the ACL.) But regardless of the rehab route you and your doctors choose, proper nutrition will optimize it.

With any ACL injury, an athlete's body goes through three stages: inflammation, proliferation and remodeling. Here's how you should adjust your eating habits during each stage to regain health as fast as possible.

Inflammation

Post-injury, you'll notice painful swelling around the affected area. The International Society of Sports Nutrition recommends ingesting omega-3 fatty acids. You can get them from fish, but also from whole food sources like algae, flax, hemp and flower and seed oils. Fats, garlic, turmeric, green tea and pineapples also contain nutrients helpful for combatting inflammation. (See 6 Anti-Inflammatory Foods to Relieve Muscle Soreness and Battle Soreness With NY Giants LB Mark Herzlich's Fish Taco Recipe.)

Also during this stage, it's necessary to boost your calorie intake. Don't go overboard, but an additional 300 calories per day from protein, dietary fats and complex carbohydrates can help.

Proliferation

Once inflammation subsides and the damaged tissue has been removed, the body makes space for new tissue to begin forming. This is called scar tissue, which lays the foundation for new muscle cells, making your ACL regenerate specifically how you rehab it. Though it is not absolutely necessary to wear a brace at this point in recovery, it is advised since the brace allows you to keep your knee joint stabilized, ensuring a proper alignment for new ACL tissue formation.

After ACL surgery, pro-inflammatory molecules called cytokines provoke muscle atrophy. To give your body better control over this molecular activity, include the antioxidants vitamin C and vitamin E in your diet. Research from the Linus Pauling Institute suggests leg strength is associated with antioxidants in the bloodstream, so consuming them may promote strength. Citrus fruits like oranges and grapefruit contain vitamin C, and wheat germ and grains have large amounts of vitamin E.

Remodeling

Scar tissue will eventually be replaced by stronger tissue, although it will not be as strong as your pre-injured ACL. As soon as you are cleared by your physician or therapist, engage in light knee rehab work so that your new tissue isn't too taut. It may be intimidating to work on the same area that you injured, but your body will help by delivering blood supply and nutrients to areas that need them. Since your rehab will now focus on strength training, consuming protein becomes especially important. Your ligaments contain several strands of strong, structural proteins for strength and resilience, and your body needs protein to provide amino acids to assemble into new tissue. In general, you should consume two or three servings of protein per day.

Guidelines

Always consult with your doctor for a more individualized approach to rehab and diet. Depending upon your injury, your nutrition needs in certain areas may be greater.

Photo: dailymail.co.uk

Topics: ACL INJURY
Must See
Dwight Howard Stays in the Gym All Night Dwight Howard Stays in the Gym All Night
Views: 5,822,182
Michael Jordan: Mind of a Champion Michael Jordan: Mind of a Champion
Views: 548,271
Patrick Willis' Homegrown Off-Season Workout Patrick Willis' Homegrown Off-Season Workout
Views: 1,229,917

Featured Videos

Kevin Love's In-Season Basketball Workout Kevin Love's In-Season Basketball Workout Views: 1,017,580
A Day in the Life With Kansas City Chiefs Tight End Travis Kelce A Day in the Life With Kansas City Chiefs Tight End Travis Kelce Views: 15,821
Path to the Pros 2015: Shaq Thompson Path to the Pros 2015: Shaq Thompson Views: 70,687
Load More

Resources

STACK Fitness

Everything you need to be fitter than ever

STACK Conditioning

Sport-specific conditioning programs

Coaches and Trainers

Tips and advice for coaches and trainers

Magazine

Latest issues of STACK Magazine

STACK 4W

Women's sports workout, nutrition and lifestyle advice

Gamer

Gaming, entertainment and tech news

Basic Training

Military-style training for athletes

News

Find the latest news relevant to athletes

Most Popular Videos

Two-Ball Dribbling Drill With John Wall Two-Ball Dribbling Drill With John Wall
Views: 3,362,717
Paul Rabil's Box Jumps Paul Rabil's Box Jumps
Views: 851,414
Roy Hibbert 540 lbs Deadlift Roy Hibbert 540 lbs Deadlift
Views: 1,577,083
Dribbling Drills for Tighter Handles Dribbling Drills for Tighter Handles
Views: 4,333,085
Ohio State Football Open Field Plyo Drill Ohio State Football Open Field Plyo Drill
Views: 9,499,111

Load More
More Cool Stuff You'll Like
Connective Tissue: The Key to Preventing ACL Injuries

Connective Tissue: The Key to Preventing ACL Injuries

The Anterior Cruciate Ligament, or ACL, is the last thing you want to hear your doctor tell you that is injured. Even though you can live life without...

How to Keep Your Feet Healthy On and Off the Field

How to Keep Your Feet Healthy On and Off the Field

4 Sports Massage Techniques to Relieve Tight Muscles

4 Sports Massage Techniques to Relieve Tight Muscles

3 Steps to Prevent Soccer ACL Injuries

3 Steps to Prevent Soccer ACL Injuries

How to Train With Running Blisters

How to Train With Running Blisters

The Secret Weapon Powering Stephen Curry's Resurgence

The Secret Weapon Powering Stephen Curry's Resurgence

Pectoral Tendon Ruptures and Injury Prevention

Pectoral Tendon Ruptures and Injury Prevention

10 Ways to Fix Back Pain

10 Ways to Fix Back Pain

Avoid Low-Back Pain With These 7 In-Season Exercises

Avoid Low-Back Pain With These 7 In-Season Exercises

How to Prevent In-Season Volleyball Injuries

How to Prevent In-Season Volleyball Injuries

5 Tips to Intelligently Train Through Lower Back Pain

5 Tips to Intelligently Train Through Lower Back Pain

Avoid ACL Injuries in Softball with PREP

Avoid ACL Injuries in Softball with PREP

5 Things You Can Do to Prevent Muscle Injuries

5 Things You Can Do to Prevent Muscle Injuries

6 Steps for Recovering From a Season-Ending Injury

6 Steps for Recovering From a Season-Ending Injury

6 Ways to Prevent Common Sports Injuries

6 Ways to Prevent Common Sports Injuries

8 of the Most Ridiculous Off-Field Athlete Injuries of All Time

8 of the Most Ridiculous Off-Field Athlete Injuries of All Time

Coaches: Prevent Injuries With the Recovery Management Tool

Coaches: Prevent Injuries With the Recovery Management Tool

Why Tommy John Surgery Is Ruining Pitchers

Why Tommy John Surgery Is Ruining Pitchers

The Future of Sports Injury Rehabilitation

The Future of Sports Injury Rehabilitation

STUDY: Imaginary Exercise Helps You Recover Faster From Injury

STUDY: Imaginary Exercise Helps You Recover Faster From Injury

Outsmart Injury With These 4 Predictive Tests

Outsmart Injury With These 4 Predictive Tests

Basketball Players: Prevent Ankle Sprains With These 3 Exercises

Basketball Players: Prevent Ankle Sprains With These 3 Exercises

5 Bodyweight Exercises to Prevent Baseball Injuries

5 Bodyweight Exercises to Prevent Baseball Injuries

How to Prevent Baseball Injuries During the Off-Season

How to Prevent Baseball Injuries During the Off-Season

Eliminate Elbow Pain with These 3 Methods

Eliminate Elbow Pain with These 3 Methods

Predicting the Impact of DeMarco Murray's Hand Injury

Predicting the Impact of DeMarco Murray's Hand Injury

Reducing Low-Back Pain: What You Need to Know

Reducing Low-Back Pain: What You Need to Know

Impressive Advances in ACL Rehab

Impressive Advances in ACL Rehab

Dry Needling: Powerful, Drug-Free Pain Relief for Athletes

Dry Needling: Powerful, Drug-Free Pain Relief for Athletes

Quarterbacks: 4 Tips to Keep Your Throwing Shoulder Healthy

Quarterbacks: 4 Tips to Keep Your Throwing Shoulder Healthy

Evan Gattis's Protection-Enhanced Catcher's Helmet

Evan Gattis's Protection-Enhanced Catcher's Helmet

Preventing ACL Injuries in Soccer Players

Preventing ACL Injuries in Soccer Players

4 Tips to Relieve Muscle Stiffness

4 Tips to Relieve Muscle Stiffness

7 Ways to Fix Back Pain

7 Ways to Fix Back Pain

STUDY: Female Athletes Are at Higher Risk of Overuse Injuries

STUDY: Female Athletes Are at Higher Risk of Overuse Injuries

Sports Hernias: What You Need to Know

Sports Hernias: What You Need to Know

Prevent ACL Injuries With This Hamstring-Focused Workout

Prevent ACL Injuries With This Hamstring-Focused Workout

4 Strategies to Prevent Tommy John Surgery

4 Strategies to Prevent Tommy John Surgery

Megan Rapinoes Secret to Staying Healthy

Megan Rapinoe

Achilles Tendon Ruptures: Prevention and Recovery

Achilles Tendon Ruptures: Prevention and Recovery

2 Ways to Fix Anterior Pelvic Tilt

2 Ways to Fix Anterior Pelvic Tilt

6 Simple Tips to Prevent Knee Injuries

6 Simple Tips to Prevent Knee Injuries

How to Treat Piriformis Syndrome

How to Treat Piriformis Syndrome

YardBarker