Helping the body heal

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Author: Edward H. Nessel
Date: Fall 2006
From: AMAA Journal(Vol. 19, Issue 2)
Publisher: American Running & Fitness Association
Document Type: Report
Length: 1,903 words

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The body can handle many types of stresses. Nature has provided for this or else none of us would age into maturity, let alone grow out of adolescence. A highly trained athlete can usually handle the physical stresses demanded by his sport to a greater extent than the so-called "weekend warrior." The body can train to train, but can it train to greatly improve or excel? That takes in-depth knowledge of human physiology mixed with good coaching, accommodating genetics, and a little luck. But there is one circumstance which has nothing to do with athletic prowess or good coaching or even high-minded determination which could make or break a competitor. especially if circumstances present poor timing with regards to a major athletic event. And that circumstance deals with physical trauma, whether sustained from an accident, overuse injury or the need to recuperate from reparative surgery.

The Body's Response to Physical Trauma

The body's response to sustaining wounds is to first isolate and then adapt the affected tissue to try and lessen the extent of damage. Then, regeneration begins which takes time and energy, nutrients and hydration, rest and recovery. The most critical nutrients involved with wound healing include protein, enzyme co-factors, glucosamine, Omega-3, zinc, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, and iron. The fact that these substances can all be purchased over-the-counter (OTC) affords the athlete and/or coach the opportunity to help the healing process quickly.

When the body is injured, its normal operating functions can become compromised. Depending upon the severity and/or the extent of physical trauma, the body's need for high-quality protein is substantially increased. The immune system is extremely dependent upon quality protein to have manufactured all its important elements for keeping infection and inflammation from getting out of control. To emphasize, several studies have shown that about 25% of hospitalized patients and as many as hall of general surgery patients exhibit protein malnutrition. This can significantly lengthen the time of healing by allowing inflammation to linger and infection to fester. Also, revascularization and the actual remodeling of tissue can both be delayed and impaired. Anyone undergoing major surgery can attest to die body's need for help in recovery by experiencing a dramatic sustained increase in overall weakness. Much of this can be alleviated by the simple intake of quality protein starting about a week before elective surgery and the assurance of adequate fluid intake before and after surgery.

A rather amazing story of recovery, exhibited by Jeff Farrell, America's premier freestyle sprinter in I960, is made all the more remarkable in light of what was stated above. He only had seven days after abdominal surgery for appendicitis before Olympic Trials started that year. His high level of physical fitness and his obviously strong determination to make the team have become the stuff of legend.

Protein Supplementation

Prime sources of protein...

Source Citation

Source Citation
Nessel, Edward H. "Helping the body heal." AMAA Journal, vol. 19, no. 2, fall 2006, pp. 9+. Accessed 29 Nov. 2022.

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