Injuries suck! Not only do they take you away from your sport (allowing the competition to catch up to you), they can also wreak havoc with your mental and physical wellbeing.
When it comes to rehabbing an injury, the objective is clear: to bounce back as quickly as possible. Doing this requires a pinch of smart injury management (get my free downloadable guide to learn how the pros do it), a spoonful of good therapists, a return to full fitness training plan to thicken the sauce and solid nutrition to round it all off.
But what about supplements? There are some that have been shown to improve performance, but what about speeding your return from injury?
Enter HMB. A metabolite of the amino acid Leucine, HMB has gained popularity as a sports supplement with a good research profile and has been a foundation product here at Blonyx. Here’s how it could help you bounce back from injury quicker:
1. HMB and muscle loss
HMB is known as an “anti-catabolic” - meaning it prevents muscle loss. A number of studies (outlined in this review paper on HMB) have demonstrated its anti-catabolic properties especially in disease conditions. In many cases the subjects were confined to full bed rest - which could be considered similar to you having to avoid using your [insert injured body part].
Anecdotally - a few years ago I had surgery to rebuild my scaphoid bone after a crazy snowboarding accident. I was casted for 6 months as a result, took HMB religiously throughout, and resorted to unilateral training. After removing my cast I was back to full strength on my casted side in under 3 weeks.
2. HMB, muscle damage, and soreness
Another thing that HMB is known for is protecting muscles from training damage. One study showed that taking it almost eliminated damage from heavy training and another showed it significantly reduced damage after a 20K run. This is one of the reasons it’s often seen as a recovery aid. With less muscle damage you simply need less recovery time between sessions.
TAKEAWAY: Taking HMB will reduce soreness and damage when you start training again, so you can do more recovery work and will need less recovery time between sessions.
3. HMB and performance recovery
When it comes to athletic performance, there are a number of studies that show that HMB improves strength, muscle mass and even endurance performance. Maintaining muscle and reducing damage aside, some scientists have suggested that HMB could also tell your body to increase muscle protein production too. This could simply mean that it speeds up your response to training.
TAKEAWAY: Taking HMB can speed the rate you adapt to the training you do as you recover from injury.
4. Added bonus if you’re a masters athlete
An excellent 2015 research review collected all data regarding HMB use in older adults. After their analysis they concluded that HMB reduced muscle loss as we get older, and that this happens regardless of activity level.
This was followed up by a 2020 study which found the same results, but couldn’t tell if the addition of exercise made any difference.
Maintaining muscle mass as you age is associated with less injuries on and off the field. Prevention means you’ll be avoiding injury downtime altogether.
5. Adding creatine to the mix to avoid injury altogether
Like HMB, creatine monohydrate is another supplement that has been shown to improve performance. It may also help you avoid injury too!