Nutrition in Physiotherapy: Role of Nutrition in Physical Therapy Management

Nutrition in Physiotherapy

Joseph Raynauld Raymond said:

Diet is the essential key to all successful healing”     

The condition in which degeneration of tissues occurs, physiotherapists play an important role to stimulate regeneration either through their interventions which include exercise plan and electrotherapy modalities. Body tissues during the regeneration process require such nutrients that are also essential for the formation of neurotransmitters. These nutrients need to be included in diet, and have a positive influence on recovery.

Nutrition depends on the person’s age, activity level, body’s type, gender and degree of injury. Protein which is another form of nutrient for muscle building, minerals like calcium and magnesium work for structural integrity and maintain muscle tone. Similarly, vitamins help in normal function, growth and development of cells.

Patients with nutritional deficiencies have decreased absorption due to infection or stress or increased loss of nutrients, leading to negative changes in gut which shift the human body towards inflammatory symptoms. The need for nutritional education is an important intervention in disease like obesity and diabetes, because a healthy diet is associated with BMI and has positive influence on mood disorders like depression and anxiety. Proper nutrition helps to prevent permeability of intestines and blood brain barrier.


According to Integrative Pain Science Institute, in 2014, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition stated:

“It is important to understand and apply nutrition knowledge to all health care services which are beneficial for patient. That’s why it is essential to for all health care professions to assess dietary intake and give them guidance and treatment plan.”

“General Physicians, and their assistants, nurses,, pharmacists, dentists, physiotherapists,occupational therapist, speech and language therapists, and others can positively affect patient care by reinforcing the importance of nutrition across all healthcare services.”

“Nutrition is also an essential part of education, training, practice, and research for, physiotherapist, occupational therapists, and speech and language therapists. They actually promote lifestyle modifications, especially during the rehabilitation.”

Benefits of Healthy and Balanced diet

  • Boost energy level
  • Improve digestive health
  • Manage mood disorders
  • Improve immunity system and concentration level
  • Promote self esteem
  • Protect body against disease like cardiovascular, obesity, diabetes or musculoskeletal
  • Manage body weight
  • Improve memory and energy level
  • Keep blood pressure and cholesterol level within target ranges

balanced diet

How Physiotherapists play a role in Nutrition?

Physiotherapist experts in non-pharmacological pain therapy, so the exercise and manual therapy may not be enough for recovery of disease. Physical therapy combined with nutrition help the people to return to function safely and rapidly. As a physiotherapist it is important to consider all contributors to recovery of patients, while performing physiotherapy techniques for muscle’s strength, stretching and flexibility, we often overlook the importance of nutrition which is the less obvious component. Although it is not part of the physiotherapy field but a physiotherapist should have knowledge regarding a healthy diet which influences musculoskeletal healing, as nutrition plays a crucial role in the healing process.

For example, for an injured person with fear of weight changes, in this case weight concern is better but under eating is not the only option. Excess calorie intake results in increased fat deposition and inadequate intake leads to muscle loss. Thus, limiting calories will prolong treatment. In case of under-eating patients will get weaker and have more difficulty in muscle rebuilding. So, as a physiotherapist we can guide our patient on how nutrition is important in a patient’s recovery.

How nutrition effect on healing process

Healing process is divided into 3 phases:

  1. Inflammation
  2. Proliferation
  3. Remodeling

According to covalent careers

In inflammation, dietary fats including essential fatty acid i.e. Omega 3 limits inflammation. Omega 3 is not formed by our body, so consumption through omega 3 rich foods like olive oil, fish oil, walnuts, avocado and almonds can be added in diet to reduce inflammation. Omega-6 fatty acid like oil, and fried foods should avoid in excess quantity because it is important to take both omega-3 and omega-6 in equal ratio of 1:1

The antioxidants in fruits and vegetables e.g broccoli, citrus fruit, and red grapes will also help in this phase

When in phase of proliferation and remodeling it is important to prevent atrophy and repair of soft tissue through protein intake.

Gaining knowledge about nutrition is just an additional and basic information for a good physiotherapist to enhance patient’s recovery




Is there a connection between nutrition and physical therapy outcomes?