ADRIAN PENZHORN explains why eating the right foods may assist in getting you back onto your bike quicker after an injury.
Most of us will experience it at least once, if not once a year. A fall, a poor bike setup or a freak accident. Injuries happen. Whether it is a weakness you have pushed too far or a blow from some hard contact with the ground, muscle tweaks and ligament damage are a real risk for any rider. Your recovery and rehabilitation is likely to involve rest, compression, elevation, ice, possibly medication, manipulation, therapy and strengthening exercises. The steps we follow to assist healing should not ignore the foods we eat, it may mean a shorter layoff before you are back pedalling. For starters, a drop in activity should match smarter decisions on food portions and choices, we might not get away with the side of fries or a cheeky cheesecake like we used to. A nutrient dense diet with plenty of plants is a good place to begin, quality protein from dairy, meats, eggs or a whey supplement can help the repair process and limiting saturated fats can help reduce inflammation. While some inflammation is needed to heal we can limit excess through wise choices, dropping refined sugars and including omega 3 rich oily fish (salmon, mackerel, trout, sardines). Polyphenol containing foods like sour cherries, berries, dark chocolate and green tea can help too. A topic that has been of interest recently is the use of gelatine to assist repair from injury. Soft tissue like ligaments and tendons are made up of similar amino acids (protein building blocks) to those found in gelatine. Some pretty nifty studies showed that these tissues could regenerate when provided with the right amino acids and some vitamin C. To trial this further researchers have been using gelatine and vitamin C in injured athletes and found a quicker return to play time for soft tissue injuries. What’s more is this is a very easy, food-focussed method to help the body heal. By including gelatine in various forms before rehabilitative exercise it is quite possible that tendons and ligaments can repair quicker or stronger. Adding some gelatine powder to a pre-workout drink or playing around with some kitchen innovations you can try it yourself. It might also be a worthwhile option for preventing overuse or weakness associated injuries, not just healing from them. The guideline is to add 10 g of gelatine (1 sachet of commercially available gelatine, found in the baking aisle at your supermarket) to a vitamin C rich food or drink. Ideally about 100 mg of vitamin C is needed which you will find in 200 ml juice from orange, kiwi, cherry, guava or pineapple. You can prep this ahead of time and have some jelly in the fridge for your pre-ride snack or try our recipe below for gelatine jellies to use on the bike or before rehab and strengthening exercises. The important issue with timing is to have this 30 – 60 minutes before exercise to allow the amino acids to be available when training.
→ 250 ml vitamin C rich juice (cherry or similar – note: kiwi, pineapple or guava are unlikely to set but can be used for drinks and shakes)
→ 3 Tbsp (30 g) gelatine powder
1. Heat the juice in a saucepan over medium heat, stir in the gelatine and whisk until dissolved.
2. Pour your liquid mix into ice cube trays or a mould of your choice.
3. Let cool in the fridge for 30 minutes or until set, pop out and enjoy. These can be kept in an air-tight container in the fridge for one week. If you feel like adding a little extra protein you can substitute some of the juice for milk or add and mix one scoop of whey protein after letting the mixture cool, before pouring into moulds. P.S. They make a great alternative to gums for the kids’ lunchboxes too!