Sunday, February 12, 2023

New Evidence That Collagen May Help Your Tendons

Collagen liquid used in the study
I recently had quite a bit of pain in my right Achilles tendon. Besides getting Aized to treat me and wearing my Strassburg sock to sleep, I had to do some rehab as well. Running didn't hurt much, going down stairs was more painful.

Naturally my curiousity was piqued when a newly published study (Lee et al, 2023) on a group of elite female football players found a big improvement in tendon stiffness after taking collagen supplements 3 times a week. The study measured the properties of the patella tendon which connects the patella (kneecap) to the shin bone as this is a common injury site for female soccer players. Ultrasound and strength tests were measured before and after training.

Training consisted of on-field soccer practice, leg strengthening exercises and plyometrics.

The participants took 30 grams of hydrolyzed collagen (pictured above) 3 times a week immediately after training while the control group took a calorie- matched placebo drink. Both groups also took 500 milligrams of Vitamin C as it is thought to be necessary for the body to be able to use the collagen.

Results showed an increase in tendon stiffness. The stiffer tendons become, the more they stretch and the more energy they store. Stiffer tendons have shown to be associated with better running economy since they can recycle more energy from each stride.

The group taking the collagen had a significant 18 percent increase in tendon stiffness compared to the placebo's 8 percent gain. There were no differences in size or cross sectional area of the tendon, suggesting that the extra collagen ingested improved the microscopic structure of the tendon. There was also no differences in leg strength.

Remember Professor Keith Barr? I wrote about his gelatin collagen research in 2019. His research group from UC Davis published evidence suggesting that taking collagen plus Vitamin C enhances jump and squat performance but without significant change in leg stiffness (Lis et al, 2022).

Another published research (Jerger et al, 2022) found that taking collagen supplements daily boosted tendon cross sectional area, but did not improve tendon stiffness more than the placebo group.

Confused? Especially with each study mentioned above producing different results. Study protocols were different and this is actually good since it means that you do not have to follow one specific 'magic' protocol to get the benefits.

More research and details need to be worked out, as more studies are done, it will hopefully prove that tendons and ligaments can heal better than we think. So other than training your tendons and wearing your Strassburg sock when you sleep, collagen supplements may be something you want to try.


Jerger S, Centner C, Lauber B et al (2022). Effects Of Collagen Peptide Supplementation Combined With Resistance Training On Achilles Tendon Properties. Scan J Med Sci Sports. 32(7): 1131-1141. DOI: 10.1111.sms.14164

Lee J, Bridge JE, Clark DR et al (2023). Collagen Supplementation Augments Changes In Patella Tendon Properties In Female Soccer Players. Frontiers in Physiol. Vol 14. DOI: 10.3389/fphys.2023.108977

Lis DM, Jordan M, Lipuma T et al (2022). Collagen And Vitamin C Supplementation Increases Lower Limb Rate Force Development. Int J Sp Nutr Ex Metab. 32)2): 65-73. DOI: 10.1123/ijsnem.2020-0313

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