3 Smoothies for Swelling After Surgery


So you got ACL surgery (or any surgery) this year, and you’re looking at your knee like, “Why are you STILL swollen and feeling like a jelly fish??!”

And then you pull your compression sleeve back on, pull out the ice, and pray.

Nutrition might be helpful here! I’ll encourage you to focus on including FIVE anti-inflammatory or antioxidant foods per day. That includes any fruits, veggies, nuts and seeds, and fish, especially salmon and tuna.

And there are a few specific ones that are particularly potent. I’ve included them in these 3 easy smoothie recipes.

Tart Cherry Juice

Anecdotally, a lot of athletes have told me they feel a difference in soreness and swelling when consuming 4-8 oz of tart cherry. Tart cherry is also a natural form of melatonin, making this the perfect pre-bed smoothie.

The beet juice and greens in this smoothie will also help with blood flow, and of course, we can’t have a smoothie without a protein source. I’ve found that chocolate protein powder, with the earthiness of the beet juice, and tartness of the cherries creates this really nice medley of flavors without being super sweet.


  • 4 oz tart cherry juice (You can find it in glass bottles in the juice/soda aisle of your grocery store.)
  • 4 oz beet juice
  • 1/2 cup frozen cherries or raspberries
  • 1 scoop chocolate protein powder
  • greens (Just throw in a handful or two of spinach!)


Pineapple has an enzyme called bromelain that can also help with soreness and swelling. It’s also just a really great way to mask the flavor of any greens in a smoothie.

Sometimes, not always, swelling can be due to fluid imbalance within cells. Coconut water is a fantastic source of potassium, which may be helpful if salt intake seems to influence your swelling status. Again, gotta have the greens and a protein source in this one too.


  • 4 oz whatever milk of your choice. I like Fairlife if you’d like to boost the protein content. Regular milk can do that too, as well as soy milk. Try to find milk options that include at least 7g protein per serving and 200-300mg calcium.
  • 4 oz coconut water
  • 1/2 cup frozen pineapple
  • 1 banana
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
  • greens 🙂


Any form of berry is a great antioxidant choice. This option is a nice balance between sweet and salty, and the nut butter is a great way to hide any greens flavor.


  • 8 oz milk (Try to pick a milk that has at least 7g protein and 200-300mg calcium.)
  • 1/2 cup frozen berries
  • 2 T nut butter
  • 1 scoop protein powder (Vanilla works best, but use what you have.)
  • greens 🙂


Looking for some more help with your injury recovery? Check out my Feed the Quad program for ACL athletes, or apply for 1:1 coaching.

Emily Barnhart