Ask the pharmacist – tips on exercising after a sports injury
Exercise boosts your energy levels, as it helps to deliver oxygen and nutrients around the body.
Question: I try to exercise as often as I can, but a recent injury has meant I am unable to get out as much as I would like. Are there supplements I can take that will make up for not exercising regularly?
Chemist Warehouse pharmacist Priya Patel has this advice:
That’s a great question. Exercise is crucial to your health and there’s not much that can replace working out.
If you’re looking for supplements specifically, there are a few areas you may want to cover while you’re not moving around as much. Exercise helps to boost your immune system and if you’re not exercising often you may want to take vitamin C and zinc, which may also support a healthy immune system. Zinc may also support healthy wound healing, growth and repair. And while your exercise is limited, it is important to keep up your bone health. Vitamins and minerals such as calcium and vitamin D are essential to support bone health and mobility. If you’re unable to get out in the sun, taking vitamin D supplements can help support strong bones and support natural healing of an injury.
Exercise boosts your energy levels, as it helps to deliver oxygen and nutrients around the body. The B vitamins, more specifically B6 and B12, are great support for your energy levels while you are unable to exercise. Magnesium is a vitamin that can also help support muscle and nerve function, and tissue healing.
Another great supplement to take is collagen. Although this is generally known to be used for skin, it is also a crucial part of normal injury recovery, as it supports healthy bones, muscles and tendons. For any supplement, refer to the packaging or ask a pharmacist to ensure you know the maximum daily dose.
Many factors affect the healing process. Getting enough sleep is crucial for injury recovery, as it allows your body to fully rest and heal. Having a healthy diet and staying hydrated are also vital. Eating foods rich in vitamin C and omega-3 fatty acids is great, as they have a number of anti-inflammatory properties that help in healing. There are many ways to get omega-3 in the body, from eating seafood, nuts and seeds (such as walnuts and chia seeds). You can also support your body by taking a fish oil or flaxseed supplement (very good for vegetarians).
It is also important to practice mindfulness during this time, as an injury can cause a change to your normal routine, which may cause stress. Stress can interrupt the inflammation process and slow healing down. Mindfulness can be practised with simple tasks such as going for a walk outside, writing in a journal or slowing your breathing. There are many phone apps that can walk you through this.
Depending on the type of injury, you could try simple yoga exercises or stretches at home while it heals. A physiotherapist will be able to recommend specific exercises to do at home or at the gym. You may need exercises to strengthen the injured area to help the injury heal correctly. If it’s a lower body injury, you may want to do upper body exercises, and vice versa with upper body injuries. Light exercises you can do while recovering from your injuries include stretching, using resistance bands, pool workouts and exercise machines that do not use your injured limb – it is always best to speak to a physiotherapist and/or doctor about which exercises to do, as every injury needs to be treated differently.
Although there isn’t really anything that can replace working out, there are a lot of vitamins, minerals and light exercises that can support a speedy recovery and help get you back to exercising as soon as possible.
Did you know?
Chemist Warehouse offers free* prescriptions at all of its New Zealand locations.
*No $5 prescription charge. Other charges relating to partially-funded or unfunded medicine prescriptions may apply.