Whether it's basketball, skateboard, running or cycling, most of us just can't live without sports. But doing sports comes with its risk for injuries as well. We've all been there, from back pain to ankle sprains, you name it. I've surely had my fair share of injuries, some of them more life changing than others.
This year I had decided to try something new: kite surfing! So we flew to Egypt to join a kite safari and learned to kite surf for 7 days straight. I was able to ride on the fourth day, woohoo! On the last day, I made a small beginner mistake and got pulled 5 meters head-forward into the water (*embarassed*). This led to a sprain in my right great toe joint and 30 minutes later my foot was all blue, purple and yellow and swollen. What an end to a great week. What I didn't know at that time was that this injury would last several months. Even 3 months later I still couldn't run or do simple exercises. Back in the days I would buy creams to treat my injury. But most of the times the best way to help the body heal itself is inside out so I started to take these 2 supplements daily:
- 15g of collagen protein
- organic greens powder
I had been taking both supplements on an irregular basis before my injury but I never experienced what it could do for me in times of constant pain. After 5 days my joint pain was down to about 40% of what it was before the regular supplement intake. Now, 6 months later my great toe joint is not fully healed but about 90% recovered. Why did these 2 supplements help my body heal so much faster than without?
Collagen consists of small units of protein that are derived from animal products, including chickens, bovine hides, fish (marine collagen), and/or eggshell membrane collagen.
As the most abundant type of protein in the human body, collagen helps to form connective tissues including the skin, muscles, tendons, joints, ligaments, blood vessels, as well as the gut lining (also used for leaky gut syndrome
). Even though the body makes its own collagen, supplementing it can help to replenish levels of amino acids that your body needs to create and maintain its healthy collagen levels, which has a positive impact on gut, skin, and joint health.
I noticed a significant different during the week when I went on vacation and didn't take my collagen supplement with me. My joint pain was more noticeable but fortunately not as much as before. Adding collagen to your list of supplements, whether regularly or irregularly, can most likely boost your health in many different ways.
I've been taking greens supplements for many years now, especially on days when I can't eat enough veggies as I'd like to. Most green powders are often a mix of dried leafy greens, seaweed, algae, fruits, and other vegetables. They're a convenient way to fuel your body with all the valuable nutrients that vegetables (especially green vegetables like spinach or broccoli) provide, but in a convenient and compact form. So how does consuming more veggies help you to recover from injuries?
Any injury produces inflammation and although this is a crucial part of the natural healing process, it provides a big challenge for your body. Sugar, bread or even meat can promote inflammations. By consuming more veggies such as brussel sprouts, kale, broccoli or spinach we facilitate the healing process by providing the much needed nutrients that help to reduce inflammations.
Most greens powder aren't really yummy (i.e. hard to swallow) but ty mixing it with your favourite flavoured protein powder or add some organic cacao powder and it'll taste much better. Just make sure you buy a brand that has organic ingredients.
Bonus: a natural supplement you can easily consume
Lastly, eating enough good fats can significantly help with injury recovery. Omega-3 fatty acids provide well-evidenced natural anti-inflammatory properties. Think of avocados, high-quality olive oil, ghee from grass-feed cows, nuts and seeds or wild salmon. Fats are also very important in transporting nutrients within the body (and no, eating fat does not necessarily make you fat).
Reducing your consumption of dairy and red meat can also help lower inflammation as these foods are rich in arachidonic acid which could lead to increased inflammation.
In summary: collagen is good for your joints, greens are important (you know your mom was right when she told you to eat those brussel sprouts) and fats are the taxis for nutrients. No matter what sports you do always make sure that your body is actually capable of all the possible movements your sport requires, for example with functional fitness training.
Tommy Chang is a movement coach, medical training therapist and co-founder of Exerbell (the foldable kettlebell which you can also use on your kite safari trips in the Red Sea ;-)...).