Exercise alone improves the structural properties of our tendons, bones, and joints. Highly trained jumping and sprinting athletes have improved tendon mechanical properties and material properties. Training consistently over time results in positive structural adaptations in our bodies which in turn allows for higher intensity training, higher volume of training and reduced injury risk.
Collagen is a structural protein abundant in our connective tissue, bone, tendon, skin, and cartilage. Type 1 collagen is by far the most common type in our bodies, and what we are discussing here.
Vitamin C has the potential to enhance collagen synthesis, bone and soft tissue healing.
Exercise and supplementing collagen + vitamin C has been shown to increase collagen synthesis, improve tendon stiffness and force transfer.
Specific training + collagen and vitamin c supplementation Improved rate of force development in countermovement jumps compared to a control group that performed the same training but were given a sham mix (maltodextrin) instead of the collagen mix.
Adding collagen to an intermittent exercise program could play a beneficial role in tendon healing, tissue repair, and injury prevention.
Several studies have used this amount = [20 g hydrolyzed collagen + 50 mg vitamin C].
Drink collagen mix ~1 hour prior to exercise. This way, your body will have more collagen available in the hours after exercise for collagen synthesis. Amino acid concentration in the bloodstream peaks after 1 hour of collagen supplementation.
See your local PT for specific advice! It doesn’t have to be complicated. The important thing is to get moving. Just normal, consistent, progressive training in the form of running, walking, and lifting depending on your current capacity and goals. A few key concepts:
Our bodies tend to respond well to relatively short bouts of activity followed by longer bouts of recovery. Training bouts can be daily or multiple times per day separated by at least 4 hours. Ever wonder why doubles are such a common training staple? For some specific tendon issues it is best just to perform 2 loading sessions per week in addition to your normal training.
For high intensity work 2 or 3 days per week frequency is sufficient.
High intensity activity might mean:
Components of standard run training: strides, hill sprints, interval workouts.
Heavy slow resistance training (4 sets of 5-8 repetitions at >80%MVIC). The best stimulus for tendon and joint health.
Plyometrics: countermovement jumps, popo hops. In small doses are helpful for tendon resilience and more importantly train the neuromuscular system to produce force quickly.
In rehabilitation can use any tolerable form of loading whether isometric, eccentric, or isotonic exercises
Stay tuned for some examples of specific tendon loading programs.
By Kurt Roeser DPT, OCS
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