Omega-3 and Sports Injuries

Tucker Max wrote:

I compete in MMA (mixed martial arts/ultimate fighting)–amateur of course, but I train with professionals. As you can imagine, full contact fighting leads to all kinds of sprains, strains, dislocations, etc. Ever since I started taking flaxseed oil–in caplet form, equivalent of 2 tablespoons a day–I have noticed a serious reduction in the number of small, inflammation-type injuries, and a reduction in recovery time for those injuries.

I asked what he meant by “inflammation-type injuries”.

That would be any injury where inflammation is the key component of the damage, for example:


This is opposed to injuries where the key component of damage is
something more significant, for example:


Another way to put it would be that I don’t seem to get as many small injuries, and when I get them, they seem to heal quicker. I used to have to take like four Advil every day before I went to class, simply because I was so sore from the things we had done the previous days . Now, I don’t take any–and I haven’t changed anything else other than the flaxseed caplets.

Tissue inflammation is a huge part of most sports injuries. You ever watch Sportscenter, and see the post game interviews in the locker rooms? Notice how the athletes–especially pitchers–always have ice wrapped on their arms or knees or whatever? That is to reduce the tissue inflammation that occurs with high stress use. The general acronym for treating a minor sports injury is RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation). Each of those are primarily designed to reduce tissue inflammation in the damaged areas, because once that is reduced, the body can heal itself much faster (I am simplifying this, but you get the point).

If high levels of omega-3’s really do reduce this sort of sports injury inflammation, it would be a HUGE discovery in sports medicine.

It makes sense. Injuries heal faster when the body’s “natural response” is reduced? Apparently the “natural response” is excessive.

8 Replies to “Omega-3 and Sports Injuries”

  1. I was searching for Omega3 and flaxeed oil on the Internet and thought you would be an all the first places but truth was all this places were for pages of sportmen speaking about the benefits of this kind of products.

  2. Like Anonymous, I’m an MMA enthusiast. My experience with 3T/day of flax seed oil have been more or less identical to his — before: high doses of NSAIDs just to survive training, constant soreness and fatigue, &c.; after: no joint pain at all, complete discontinuation of NSAIDs, lower frequency and severity of injury. I’d really like to see a large-N peer-reviewed study on this effect, which I speculate is caused by the influence of omega-3/omega-6 fatty acid balance on eicosanoid production.

    Dental results: my hygienist made strong comments regarding the improvement of my gums on my first post-flax visit, attributing it to changes in my oral care behavior… of which there were none.

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