How Protein Powers Your Recovery: Insights from Sustain Physical Therapy in Boston

Role of Protein in Physical Therapy


When it comes to rehabilitation and performance training, the importance of protein is often overlooked. At Sustain Physical Therapy, located in the heart of Boston, we emphasize the crucial role of nutrition, particularly protein intake, in the injury rehab process. Whether you’re recovering from sports injuries, tendinopathy, or engaging in performance training, understanding how much protein you need daily can significantly influence your recovery timeline and overall health.

The Undervalued Nutrient in Physical Therapy:

In the realm of physical therapy and sports physical therapy, nutrition plays a foundational role in supporting the body’s healing and strengthening processes. However, many of our clients in Boston and beyond often overestimate their protein intake. Protein isn’t just vital for muscle growth; it’s equally important for injury rehab, including the recovery from strains, sprains, and particularly tendinopathies.

Linking Protein to Tendinopathy Rehab:

An area we see this role of protein intake play a large role is with tendinopathies. A pivotal aspect of rehabilitation from tendinopathies, such as Achilles tendinosis, within the scope of physical therapy—especially sports physical therapy—is understanding the underlying biomechanics and nutritional influences on tissue repair. Tendinopathies arise when the mechanical load exerted on a tendon consistently surpasses its capacity to manage that load, leading to microtears and inflammation. At Sustain Physical Therapy in Boston, our rehab process meticulously addresses this imbalance, initially focusing on mitigating inflammation and pain, followed by progressively loading the tendon to promote healing and strength.

A significant study that casts light on the integral role of protein in this context examined individuals suffering from Achilles tendinopathy. This condition, characterized by pain and swelling in the Achilles tendon, often afflicts runners and athletes who suddenly increase their training intensity or volume. The study’s findings were revealing; when the diet was deficient in protein, the tendons’ ability to regenerate was notably impaired. Unlike tendons receiving adequate protein, which repaired to meet or exceed their baseline integrity, protein-deficient tendons struggled to recuperate fully. They exhibited a reduced capacity for regeneration, failing to return to their pre-injury baseline and becoming more susceptible to re-injury.

These insights underscore the necessity of sufficient protein intake during the rehab process. Protein and the amino acids it contains serve as essential building blocks for repairing muscle and tendon tissues. Without adequate protein, the body lacks the necessary components for effective tendon repair and strengthening. This deficiency can significantly hinder the recovery process, prolonging discomfort and limiting performance.

For patients undergoing injury rehab or those engaged in performance training, particularly for conditions like tendinopathy, prioritizing protein consumption becomes crucial. Integrating a protein-rich diet supports the body’s natural repair mechanisms, facilitating a more efficient and complete recovery.

Linking Protein to Tendinopathy Rehab:

Optimizing Protein Intake for Recovery:

How much protein should active individuals consume for optimal recovery? The general recommendation for the average adult is about 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight per day. However, for those involved in consistent exercise or undergoing physical therapy, the recommendation increases to 0.7-1 grams per pound of body weight, depending on activity level. Quality also matters, with both animal and plant-based proteins playing critical roles in nutrition and recovery.


Nutrition, particularly protein intake, is a cornerstone of effective injury rehab and performance training. At Sustain Physical Therapy in Boston, we advocate for a holistic approach to recovery, integrating optimal nutrition with tailored physical therapy programs. If you’re experiencing prolonged soreness, difficulty recovering from workouts, or are in the midst of rehabbing an injury like tendinopathy, consider evaluating and potentially increasing your protein intake as part of your recovery strategy.

For personalized guidance on nutrition and physical therapy in Boston, especially for sports injuries and performance training, reach out to the experts at Sustain Physical Therapy. Let us support you in your journey back to peak performance and health.

a man in a green shirt smiling in front of a gym.

Dr. Adam Babcock PT, DPT

Sustained Fitness and PT

"We Help Active Adults Quickly Recover From Pain Or Injury So They Can Stay Active, Get Back To What They Love To Do, and Do It For Decades"