It is estimated that 7,500,000 working days are lost a year in the UK due to musculoskeletal injury either caused or
made worse by work. 85% of people that suffer from musculoskeletal pain and 82% of those with back pain
return to work. Reducing recovery time is therefore financially beneficial to employers.
Physiotherapy is commonly used to restore pre-injury health which together with a preventative exercise program can help reduce the chances of the same problem recurring. However diet also plays an important role. For an
injury to mend the body must synthesis new cells and a number of nutritional factors impact the speed at which it does this and the strength of the repair.
When the body undergoes increased synthesis basal metabolic rate increases; energy is used in mending the injury. Very low calorie diets aimed at weight loss during this period are not advised as this will slow the recovery process. The nutritional value of diet is also important, each of the macronutrients protein, carbohydrate and fat have specific functions during recovery. Protein is needed to repair muscle, it is recommended that protein intake is increased to compensate for increased demand. The amino acids arginine and glutamine are thought to be particularly important for muscle repair and these can be taken in supplement form. Carbohydrate is the body’s preferred source of energy, if the diet is too low in carbohydrate the body will use more protein as an energy source
reducing the amount available for muscle repair. Fatty acids are an essential part of the cell membrane and deficiency may lead to weaker cells being formed. A key element of recovery is inflammation management. Omega 3 fatty acids found in foods such as oily fish, linseed and walnuts reduce inflammation, however a diet high in omega 6, as is commonly the Western diet blocks omega 3 pathways making it ineffective.
Micronutrients are also important especially the antioxidants vitamins A,C,E and minerals selenium and zinc. Inflammation causes an increase in free radicals which can weaken cells, antioxidants element free radicals thereby preventing cell damage. Good sources of antioxidant vitamins are fruit and vegetables and brazil nuts are very high in selenium. Vitamin A and C are also needed to create collagen. Zinc which I find is often low in people’s diets, especially men is essential for enzyme activity needed to create new cells, good sources include red meat, shellfish, especially oysters and pumpkin seeds. For bone repair calcium, phosphorus and vitamin D are essential.
Providing employees with appropriate care through access to physiotherapy and nutritional support will return employees to work faster and stronger. A winning combination for both employer and employee.
Helen Money works with a team of specialist in both occupational and sports rehabilitation at the The Bosworth Clinic, Cassington www.thebosworthclinic.co.uk
For more information on nutrition related conditions you can contact Helen
directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 01865 339672.