4. Train, shower, eat.
When you eat is every bit as important as what you eat when it comes to preventing injuries. Muscle and joint tissue damage that occurs during a workout is repaired most quickly in the two hours immediately after the workout—provided you eat during that time. The most important nutrient to consume for post-exercise tissue repair is protein, but research has shown that consuming protein with carbohydrate is even better, because carbs stimulate muscle protein synthesis as well as restock depleted muscle glycogen stores.
In a study involving Marine recruits, those who used a carbohydrate-protein supplement daily after physical training through 54 days of boot camp had 33 percent fewer total medical visits, 37 percent fewer muscle and tendon injuries, and less muscle soreness than recruits who used a carbohydrate-only control or a placebo. While there are lots of carb-protein supplements formulated especially for use after exercise to speed muscle recovery, regular foods containing carbs and protein will do the job as well. Think a tall glass of low-fat chocolate milk or a turkey sandwich on whole-wheat bread. Both are tasty ways to avoid post-workout hunger—and injury.