Diet and the right exercises become even more important after a spinal cord injury (SCI). Healthy nutrition and body movement affect energy levels, digestion, and overall body composition. Additionally, proper nutrition can help reduce the effects of secondary problems and side effects from painkillers.
It’s essential to perform exercises that suit your ability. Range of motion exercises are beneficial and provide the required mobility in the body. Overall, a few healthy changes in the diet and a regular exercise regimen can help you recover fast after a spinal cord injury.
However, SCI may need long-term treatment. That means high medical expenses and doctors’ appointments which can strain the budget. If you have suffered a spinal cord injury due to the negligence of others, it’s always advised to contact a local spinal cord injury lawyer, who can help you with the process.
After you have arranged the money, let’s come back to the ways to treat an SCI. This post discusses the best foods and exercises for people with spinal cord injuries, how much to eat and the right postures.
Regular physical activity after spinal cord injury improves health. Stretching, cardio, and strength training should all be part of your fitness routine. It is important to set small achievable goals and start preparing for them. To complete a successful exercise regime, you should talk to a trainer who can help you with the right resources.
People with spinal cord injuries are more prone to weight gain, developing cardiovascular diseases and excess blood sugar than normal people. Inactivity can significantly worsen these problems.
Exercise improves energy levels and capacity to participate in activities, improves blood flow, reduces depression, strengthens muscles, increases flexibility, fights insomnia and lowers cholesterol. The following exercise should be added to the exercise routine.
Stretching is important for people with SCI because it prevents and treats muscle and joint stiffness. Stretching increases flexibility. Include exercises focusing on the shoulders, knees, hips, and ankles, as these often stiffen after a spinal cord injury. Examples include-
- Ankle roll
- Shoulder roll
- Standing hip rotation
- Using stretching bands
150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise daily can boost overall metabolism and benefit cardiovascular health. Aerobic exercise can be completed in three parts, which include.
- Start with a warm-up followed by light-intensity activities.
- Slowly begin moderate to vigorous exercise (20-60 mins/day). Do not try to go beyond your abilities.
- Cool down by engaging in low-intensity activities.
Strength training can be done on the same day as other exercises or you can dedicate an extra day to it. Strength training has numerous health benefits and increases strength in partially paralyzed muscles after SCI. You should focus on the major muscle groups that you can control.
- Lift light weights
- Using resistance bands
Like exercise, proper nutrition can help control blood pressure and cholesterol levels while reducing the risk of diabetes and heart disease. A healthy diet also provides the energy needed for exercise. Follow these basic tips.
- Plan a healthy diet, and do not skip breakfast.
- Consume little, and do not overfill your stomach.
- Replace red meat with lean protein, such as chicken or fish.
- Avoid intake of high-fat foods and processed items.
Which Foods Should You Include In Your Diet?
1. Dark leafy greens such as spinach and kale are rich in nutrition that help heal spinal cord injuries. Include berries such as blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries which are rich in antioxidants. Antioxidants remove toxins from the digestive system and help prevent future damage to the central nervous system.
2. Spinal cord injury patients should eat more nuts such as almonds, cashews and walnuts. Nuts are necessary for bone formation and strengthening.
3. Increase your calcium intake. Include dairy products such as milk, yogurt, and cheese.
4. Beans are rich in essential nutrients such as fiber, protein, and folic acid that aid in spinal cord rehabilitation.
5. Stay hydrated. Water helps cleanse the body of toxins and improve bowel movements, making it ideal for patients with spinal cord injuries or digestive problems.
What you eat and your level of physical activity affects your mood and energy levels. Hence, it’s important to maintain a balanced diet and exercise after a spinal cord injury.