Dan Garner discusses strategies and supplementation for recovery from injury

Strength coach and nutrition specialist Dan Garner is 100% passionate about helping his athletes to recover from exercise and injury. This is part 2 of a recap of the last instalment of his Recovery Series with the boys – ” Recovery From Injury” In part 1 Dan discusses the regression timeline of fatigue that inevitably leads to injury, and talks us through the first stage of recovery from injury – Inflammation. You can read it here. Want more Coach Garner?? Check him out online: www.hockeytraining.com www.createfreedom.com www.coachgarner.com

Here he details stage 2 of Recovery from Injury:

2. Proliferation

Proliferation is the immune system going in, decreasing the inflammation and getting it ready for healing.

Injury affects your BMR

Dan talked about how your Basal Metabolic Rate increases depending on how injured you are. He says your BMR is just a measurement of the organ processes doing the stuff they need to do stay alive. But your BMR increases if you’re injured because of all the repair that needs to happen costs a lot of energy. Your BMR can increase anywhere from 15 to 50 percent, based on the severity of the trauma. Sports injury and minor injury, like ankle or elbow or things like this, this will increase your BMR from 15-20% whereas a major surgery or if, say, a lot of your body was burned, it can lead to a 50% increase in BMR.

Make sure your calories are set to optimise immune function

At stage 2 of recovery from injury, Dan emphasises how important calories are for immune function. He says that calories in regard to injury repair are incredibly important because if you’re not providing your body with the raw materials it needs in order to repair, then it’s not going to repair.
Calories in regard to injury repair are incredibly, incredibly important because, if you’re not providing your body with the raw materials it needs in order to repair, then it’s not going to repair. – Dan Garner
Dan says we want to optimise immune function, but to optimise immune function, we need to make sure our calories are set. To make sure our calories are set, we need to make sure that we’re taking into consideration the increase in Basal Metabolic Rate that we’re seeing from the severity of our injury. He says we need to do a BMR times 1.2 plus 20%; then we have our actual BMR taking our injury into consideration.

Supplementation to support immune function

Dan was happy to rattle off a couple of supplements and micronutrients he recommended for recovery:
“Garlic is awesome for increasing immune function. Actually, as far as super-foods go, garlic is really a food with probably more researched benefits than any other food out there;  garlic even beating blueberries. Garlic is a phenomenal food to include in the diet, but it’s actually beneficial for immune function as well, which is why it makes sense to supplement with it, or eat two to four cloves per day during this injury process.”
Vitamin D
“I think people should always be on vitamin D.”
Vitamin A
“Studies have been shown that collagen cross-linkage is stronger with vitamin A supplementation but the repair was also quicker with vitamin A supplementation. And that was with 10,000 IU per day for the first two weeks after injury.”
Vitamin C
“Vitamin C acts as a powerful antioxidant — immune system modulator — and plays a role in collagen synthesis, so that’s recommended; anywhere from 1-2 grams a day.”
“Copper is a mineral — I am saying this right after vitamin C because copper is a mineral that assists in the formation of red blood cells, which is important for recovery, but it acts in concert with vitamin C to form elastin and to strengthen connective tissue.  So, making sure your multivitamin has about anywhere from 2-4 grams of copper per day is recommended during this initial recovery period, as well.”
“You guys, and probably everybody listening to this podcast, already take in good amount per day of zinc.  Zinc is required for 300 enzymes in the body — or over 300 — and zinc deficiency has been associated with poor wound healing.  And as a zinc deficiency is one of the most common micronutrient deficiencies, supplementation with anywhere from 15-30 mgs is recommended.” Dan explained that the research on injury recovery from a micronutrient perspective does need some more research. He notes there is some controversy as to whether it’s the simple prevention of a deficiency we’re after or if it’s actually the ingestion of additional vitamins and minerals can be of benefit during this time of recovery. However he says making sure these are in check is just really, really important and that calories and micronutrients have been shown very efficacious when it comes to injury repair.

3. Remodelling

The remodelling of tissue is limited by micronutrient availability, Dan says. So we do need these micronutrients because they are actually what’s catalysing the collagen synthesis and the ligament repair and the red blood cell creation and the actual wound healing, like with zinc. So it’s important to get back to basics and get micronutrient balance in check.

A feather in carbohydrate’s cap

Dan says we need protein to repair tissue, one gram of protein in per pound of body weight per day He says: “A lot of people will just, “Oh, man, I’m injured; I’m not training; I’m not going to have any carbs because I’m going to get fat.”  But first of all, that’s not true, but second of all, you need carbohydrates during this period anyways; carbohydrates do support immune function and carbohydrates do secrete insulin, and insulin is not just anabolic to skeletal muscle, it’s anabolic to injury sites.  So that insulin is helping you repair injury as well.” Dan recommends high quality sources of protein like dairy, eggs and meats. He says you want to keep your vegetable and fruit intake high — anywhere from three to four servings of vegetables and one to two of fruit — because we want antioxidants and all of those micronutrients.  This is because of how important the antioxidants are going to be to inflammation management, but then also how important all those vitamins and minerals are going to be to the remodelling and proliferation stage. Dan recommends half a gram of carbohydrates per pound of body weight per day or 1.1 gram per kilo per day.  He says this is going to be ideal if you’re not training at all, but enough to make sure that healing is still being optimised. He recommends minimally-processed sources during this time, like oats, sweet potato and beans and quinoa. He also says to make sure you’re getting the correct fats in per day, but not overdoing it on the fish oil.


Dan wanted to mention that NSAIDs – non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs – are not recommended for proliferation and remodelling. He says if you can get away without them, do it. Celebrex reduced ligament strength in rats recovering from injury by 32%. Rawdon also mentioned that gut issues were a caveat with NSAIDS, and Dan confirmed that they have been shown to cause GI bleeding. Dan says beyond interfering with ligament healing, NSAIDs are also going to interfere with the healing of muscle strains, and adaptations to weight-training. NSAIDs have also been shown to affect bone healing and Dan says this is not something that he can safety recommend. As he says, NSAIDS are definitely a temporary and short-term thing.

Supply and demand – more supplementation

“L-arginine at 7 grams a day has been shown beneficial.  Glutamine has also been shown beneficial.  Oranthine has also been shown beneficial.  These things would be considered conditionally essential amino acids.  They’re not essential for everyday living but, given the correct context, they can become essential for everyday living ”
“Glutamine is a good example of this; in burn patients, or people recovering from serious injuries, the depletion of glutamine in the body used for the process of repair is increased very, very rapidly and you need to supply and demand, man. So glutamine and arginine have been shown very beneficial in those scenarios.”
“I mentioned garlic; curcumin is another fantastic supplement for phase one — inflammation management…don’t go curcumin crazy, but 1-2 grams per day is ideal, within this time.” There you go, a huge matrix of content! Dan truly dotted his i’s and crossed his t’s in this episode! If you haven’t checked out part 1 of the recap of Dan’s interview on Recovery from Injury you can read it here.