Muscles, Tendons, Ligaments and Joints - Mechanical Structures that can make or break performance!

Undertaking intense or prolonged physical activity naturally induces damage to muscle fibres, which is required in order to stimulate adaptation and tolerance to the physical activity you then undertake in the future. Exercise-induced muscle damage, soreness and muscle weakness influence the ability to train and perform, and therefore recovery of damaged muscle tissue is paramount, especially if you want to bounce back quickly and effectively. Nourishing and repairing damaged muscle tissue requires a lot more than rest and physio exercises, especially if you do not want to fall into the pitfalls of having a repetitive injury.

I have had and continue to have the pleasure of working with athletes and footballers of all ages and levels. What I am currently witnessing, especially in the field of football, is an increase in muscle injuries, some of which are repetitive, with the injury raising its head every few weeks, taking the player out of the game and out of training. This leaves them feeling low, frustrated and the Manager scrabbling to fill voids on a team. So what can be done to decrease the risk of a repetitive injury or to speed up the recovery from an injury?

Muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints are viewed as mechanical structures and if an injury occurs, it's just unlucky. Perhaps some of it does fall down to being unlucky, however, it can also come down to a poorly functioning body and poor nutrition (a diet filled with processed foods, sugar, caffiene and with emphasis placed on macronutrients, but more on quantity of macros and not the quality of the macros), neither of which help with absorption or the provision of essential nutrients the body requires to use as building blocks to repair and maintain connective tissue. Connective tissue is the basis of fascia, tendons, ligaments, cartilage and bone, a structure that binds muscle together.

I know I have mentioned the importance of collagen many a time before, however it is a vital and necessary part of our body's structure and without it, the athletic body may experience muscle weakness, aching joints and weak bones - therefore leaving an athlete susceptible to an increased risk of injury, muscular, fractures and breaks. After the age of 25, collagen production within the body naturally decreases, therefore the body needs the right substances coming in from the diet and the right internal environment (gut bacteria, hormones, enzymes) in which to produce sufficient amounts of collagen to help support the body's structure.

Nutrients needed for a strong mechanical structure:

Good quality dietary proteins are vital for muscle, tendon, ligament and joint maintenance and repair. Amino acids such as; proline, lysine and glycine are required for actual collagen synthesis within connective tissue. Vitamin C is essential for synthesis of collagen. Vitamin C is an essential cofactor for the two enzymes required for collagen synthesis: prolyl hydroxylase (to stabilize the collagen molecule) and lysyl hydroxylase (to give structural strength cross-linking). Branched-chain amino acids (valine, leucine and isoleucine) are necessary for muscle synthesis and metabolism.

Higher serum levels of Vitamin D are associated with decreased injury rates and increased muscle strength and better sports performance. This is because Vitamin D is involved in protein synthesis, muscle function, bone maintenance, immune support cardiovascular function and inflammation.

The above is barely the tip of the iceberg in the nutrient department. The above also requires a healthy gut, the very epicentre of our health and wellbeing which without detriments in health, performance, recovery and overall wellbeing can be felt and seen. Many athletes already have compromised gut health due to the level and duration of physical activity which naturally alters gut bacteria composition, as does the physical stress of the activity, add into the mix the stressors of their sport (mental and physical), life outside of what they do, well, you have the perfect recipe for an imbalanced gut that is not absorbing or metabolising nutrients from what food is being consumed within the diet to aid with injury prevention, repair or maintenance of a strong mechanical structure.

Well-functioning body systems are paramount. This is why I work on nutrition for health first with all my clients to ensure their body is functioning optimally before I apply performance and recovery nutrition.

Repetitive injuries and slow recovery can also be caused by various factors such as:

  • Age

  • Sex

  • Overuse of particular muscles

  • Genetics

  • Imbalanced Hormones

  • Poor Nutrition

  • Poor Stress Management

  • Poor Sleep

  • Nutrient Deficiencies (abundant within athletic populations and even more so, within the Western Diet)

It is my job when I work with athletes and football players of any calibre to get to the root cause of what is causing muscle aches, pains and repetitive injuries, address it and put simple, yet effective dietary and lifestyle modifications in place that can be used now and in the longer term to help with their health and wellbeing first and foremost, followed by harnessing the body's full power potential for performance and recovery.

If you are struggling with repetitive injuries, muscle aches and pains, general fatigue or slow recovery, get in contact with me for a complimentary fuel your health and performance call to discuss what's going on with you and how I can help you look and feel your very best! Simply click the link here.

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