Supporting bone growth and density is crucial for youth athletes involved in any sport, however training in combat sports requires extra attention due to the regular trauma their skeletal system suffers during training. Punching, kicking, clashing and falling all cause micro-fractures (damage on a microscopic level) which when healed result in increased bone density. Bones take a lot longer to recover than muscles, so supporting your bone repair will maximise your day-to-day recovery, help prevent injuries and allow you to confidently use your power on competition day.
A balanced carbohydrate rich diet containing your 5-a-day of fruits and vegetables and a moderate amount of protein is likely to cover your bone building essentials: protein, calcium and phosphorus. However, there are two key nutrients which allow your body to use the calcium for the purpose of bone repair.
Calcium intake on its own does not equal strong bones and one of vitamin D’s many jobs is making sure the blood calcium is used as a bone-building material. Additionally, vit. D allows for healthy testosterone, “the male hormone”, crucial for strong bones, developed muscles and recovery from training. (1)
The human body is able to create its own vit. D when the skin is exposed to sunlight. However, as this isn’t always possible depending on the season and your location, you should aim to get some through dietary sources such as:
A mineral which supports bone growth and repair, reduces the removal of calcium from the body and increases vitamin D levels. (2)
It helps recovery in a multitude of ways and allows for more free testosterone (the active version of the before mentioned male hormone). (3)
Since boron is most concentrated in dried fruits and nuts, you can easily make it a part of your breakfast cereal, smoothie, energy bars, pre/post workout meals and school snacks.
The highest amounts are found in foods like:
Both boron and vitamin D take their time to produce positive changes, while bone microfractures take longer to repair than an average between-training period. If you experience chronic, repetitive pain from bone trauma- do not work through the pain! Give your shins (etc.) a week to heal and they will come back stronger than ever.
You may only notice the positive effects 2 months into sticking with these tips, but do not get discouraged; this game is a marathon, not a sprint.
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Just as your youth athlete will need to fuel well to stay healthy, the same goes for parents too. Ensuring you eat a healthy and balanced diet will help to keep your energy levels high, so you’re better equipped to handle the stress and challenges that life throws at you.