Nutritional Considerations for Injury Prevention and Recovery in Combat Sports

Nutrients. 2021 Dec 23;14(1):53. doi: 10.3390/nu14010053.


Sports participation is not without risk, and most athletes incur at least one injury throughout their careers. Combat sports are popular all around the world, and about one-third of their injuries result in more than 7 days of absence from competition or training. The most frequently injured body regions are the head and neck, followed by the upper and lower limbs, while the most common tissue types injured are superficial tissues and skin, followed by ligaments and joint capsules. Nutrition has significant implications for injury prevention and enhancement of the recovery process due to its effect on the overall physical and psychological well-being of the athlete and improving tissue healing. In particular, amino acid and protein intake, antioxidants, creatine, and omega-3 are given special attention due to their therapeutic roles in preventing muscle loss and anabolic resistance as well as promoting injury healing. The purpose of this review is to present the roles of various nutritional strategies in reducing the risk of injury and improving the treatment and rehabilitation process in combat sports. In this respect, nutritional considerations for muscle, joint, and bone injuries as well as sports-related concussions are presented. The injury risk associated with rapid weight loss is also discussed. Finally, preoperative nutrition and nutritional considerations for returning to a sport after rehabilitation are addressed.

Keywords: combat sports; nutrition; recovery from injury; sports injuries; supplements.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acids / administration & dosage
  • Antioxidants / administration & dosage
  • Athletes
  • Athletic Injuries / diet therapy
  • Athletic Injuries / prevention & control*
  • Athletic Injuries / rehabilitation*
  • Brain Concussion / therapy
  • Creatine / administration & dosage
  • Dietary Proteins / administration & dosage
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / administration & dosage
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Micronutrients
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism
  • Nutrients / administration & dosage
  • Nutritional Status*
  • Return to Sport
  • Sports
  • Sports Nutritional Physiological Phenomena*


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