Nutritional Support for Exercise-Induced Injuries

Sports Med. 2015 Nov:45 Suppl 1:S93-104. doi: 10.1007/s40279-015-0398-4.


Nutrition is one method to counter the negative impact of an exercise-induced injury. Deficiencies of energy, protein and other nutrients should be avoided. Claims for the effectiveness of many other nutrients following injuries are rampant, but the evidence is equivocal. The results of an exercise-induced injury may vary widely depending on the nature of the injury and severity. Injuries typically result in cessation, or at least a reduction, in participation in sport and decreased physical activity. Limb immobility may be necessary with some injuries, contributing to reduced activity and training. Following an injury, an inflammatory response is initiated and while excess inflammation may be harmful, given the importance of the inflammatory process for wound healing, attempting to drastically reduce inflammation may not be ideal for optimal recovery. Injuries severe enough for immobilization of a limb result in loss of muscle mass and reduced muscle strength and function. Loss of muscle results from reductions in basal muscle protein synthesis and the resistance of muscle to anabolic stimulation. Energy balance is critical. Higher protein intakes (2-2.5 g/kg/day) seem to be warranted during immobilization. At the very least, care should be taken not to reduce the absolute amount of protein intake when energy intake is reduced. There is promising, albeit preliminary, evidence for the use of omega-3 fatty acids and creatine to counter muscle loss and enhance hypertrophy, respectively. The overriding nutritional recommendation for injured exercisers should be to consume a well-balanced diet based on whole, minimally processed foods or ingredients made from whole foods. The diet composition should be carefully assessed and changes considered as the injury heals and activity patterns change.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acids / administration & dosage
  • Antioxidants / administration & dosage
  • Athletic Injuries / diet therapy*
  • Athletic Injuries / physiopathology
  • Creatine / administration & dosage
  • Dietary Proteins / administration & dosage
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Energy Intake
  • Exercise / physiology
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / administration & dosage
  • Humans
  • Immobilization
  • Inflammation / physiopathology
  • Wound Healing


  • Amino Acids
  • Antioxidants
  • Dietary Proteins
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • Creatine