Back on the field in six months

Nutrition has proved to be a vital part of the recovering process when players rupture their Achilles tendon


Nutrition science is an emerging area of sports science and has become more of a focus as a part of a routine for an athlete. Dr Chris Curtis has worked in the field for the past 14 years, overlooking postgraduate programs in sports nutrition at universities across the UK, and carrying out research among Premier league footballers on the connection between nutrition and their recovery from sports injuries. He gave a talk on the subject at an open event in RU last week. 


I have worked predominantly in team sports, mostly in football and rugby. I played rugby a lot when I was younger and as a teenager I played football so I have been very fortunate, I suppose, to have a career in that environment and make my interest a job. My talk at RU was based mainly on my applied work, what science is available and how we translate that science into what goes on to the athlete’s plate in terms of trying to help him recover from the injury. I have worked in a sports science and medical team with Premier League footballers and nutrition has proved to be a vital part of the process when recovering and returning from a quite serious injury such as rupturing their Achilles tendon.

According to Chris, a number of different things combine in the process. Certain interventions that are put in place are very much targeted on a very physiological and biochemical level to be able to assist with the repair of the tissue. At the same time, the athlete needs to feel good and enjoy their food.

I don´t want it to become tiresome or a chore. There is a big mood lift with it as well and that´s something that we were aware of as part of our nutrition program. I worked with a chef to be able to develop some recipes that we know scientifically are going to work for them but the food actually needs to be tasty and enjoyable to look at. They came up with some fantastic recipes while I ran the numbers.

Chris and the support team managed to return a Premier League player to the field in just six months. Though Chris won´t take the whole credit he says nutrition played a role as part of the speedy recovery, getting the player back on his feet and playing football in such a short period of time. Tendon and ligament issues in football are becoming more common in both males and females, requiring a greater understanding of such issues.


We have started to gain a greater understanding of how we as nutritionists can manipulate the biochemistry and physiology of the body to help speed the process up. My philosophy is to work around educating the athlete rather than relying on a particular supplement we don´t want our athletes to consume large numbers of pills, drinks, and powders we would rather do it via food first where we can. That´s not to say that we don´t use certain supplements to assist with recovery from the injury because we need them to be quite specific in what we need them to do and that is sometimes difficult to retrieve that from food. But food should always be the main focus.