Preventing injuries by eating healthy

Eun Ho Kim, Features

For most high school athletes, there is nothing more exciting than hearing the roar of fellow students cheering for them as they make the winning touchdown or goal, or hit a homerun.

The most discouraging news is being sidelined for health-related injuries.

I always eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner no matter what, even the days I don’t have practice.”

— Dristen Canaday (9)

Athletes must be mentally and physically fit to perform at their best. Contrary to popular belief, warming up and pushing yourself harder are not the only ways to keep fit; in actuality, the simplest way is to maintain a nutritious diet.

“A lot of injured athletes think, ‘I’m not practicing so I need to significantly cut back on caloric intake,’” Sunwoo Oh (12), who does Judo, said. “They return back to practice more prone to injuries because they haven’t been taking care of their body while they were resting. They forget that when you’re injured, your resting metabolic rate is higher than it would otherwise be and your body needs that nutrition to heal properly.”

Accustomed to rigorous activity that burns many hundreds of calories daily, athletes hobbled by a broken ankle or strained knee ligament may think it wise to drastically cut calories to stay in shape.

Staying in shape is very important for an athlete, but staying in shape the right way by eating nutritious foods is more helpful than trying to stay in shape by cutting calories. Athletes who eat well prevent potential future injuries.

“Food is the fuel that helps athletes perform their best,” Fisher Titus Medical Center proclaims on its website. “If you want to get the most out of your workouts and athletic capabilities, your diet should be a top priority in your fitness efforts.”

Nutritious foods, such as salmon and cruciferous vegetables are listed by Fisher Titus as containing nutrients healthy for hard-working athletes. Salmon contains protein and omega 3 acids. Cruciferous vegetables, such as spinach and kale, contain essential minerals and vitamin A, K, and B6 which help the body repair itself and stay energized.

Dristen Canaday (9), who runs cross country and track, and plays tennis, said he eats nutritious meals every day.

“I always eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner no matter what, even the days I don’t have practice,” Canaday said.

Athletes who are injured or want to prevent injuries resort to strategies such as training harder or using fancy equipment, when the simplest way to consistently stay safe is by keeping a healthy diet.