Knee pain, foot pain, ankle pain, tendinitis, plantar fasciitis are you familiar with any of these conditions? You are not alone. Many of these conditions involve tendon, ligament, cartilage and bone concerns. The treatment is often rest, rehab, injections, and even surgery. But is there a new emerging way to improve heal and strengthen our connective tissue? There does appear to be. Read on to learn a simple and easily accessible addition to your diet in the form of collagen for injury prevention or rehab regime.
Why do Tendons take so long to Heal?
Tendons are connective tissues which are a part of the musculoskeletal system. They are particularly slow to repair. The main reason this occurs was discovered in the 1950’s, when it was discovered that repair and regeneration of tendons are limited after age 18. Additionally, this tissue is less vascular and with fewer nerves than other body tissues. This reduced innervation and blood supply results in longer healing times. Other types of connective tissue are ligaments, bones, and cartilage which all have less vascularity (blood vessels).
Many of us have not seen our own tendons…thank goodness…but you have seen chicken tendons. They are white and rubbery, while the flesh is pink and soft and ours are the same.
Tendons are more difficult to heal due to their inherent reduced vascularity. What this means is that they do not have significant blood flow through them. Why is this important? This is important to know because the blood is the component of our bodies that helps aid in healing our tissues and cells. The healing properties are carried in the blood and the damaged tissues are targeted for repair. So that all sounds like bad news…and it has been so far…
There has been recent research by scientist Keith Baar, showing that stretching of ligament leads to an increase in collagen resulting in repair. He was able to show that stretching the ligament for 10 minutes results in rebuilding within the tendon. Baar focused on searching for collagen that is most easily utilized by the body for the repair. He settled on good old, readily available food grade gelatin. Yes, Jello. Through further investigation he was able to discover that pairing 15 grams with Vitamin C taken about an hour before a mini work-out improves the repair rate of the tendon/connective tissue. This science supports that gelatin augments the effects of exercise on the tissue.
What Type of Mini Work Out?
The type of exercise used for the mini work out will depend on the type of connective tissue that you are wanting to target. Isometric exercises are recommended to improve tendon/ligament/cartilage repair and health. To improve bone health high impact exercises are recommended.
What are Isometric Exercises for Ligaments/Tendons/Cartilage?
Isometric exercises are those that are performed without moving the joint or muscle. Think of a plank. The muscles are engaged but there is no movement, but the connective tissue is engaged and is triggered to repair.
For ankle issues (Achilles) and foot pain, they recommend standing on your toes on one foot and sustaining that pose for 30 seconds, relax your foot down for 30 seconds and repeat 5 times for each foot if necessary.
High Impact for Bone Health
High impact exercises are ones that jar the skeletal system which triggers the body to deposit strengthening collagen and calcium into the bone. Think jump rope or jumping jacks.
Is it the Holy Grail?
While this new information is not the Holy Grail, timing your Jello (or hydrolyzed collagen that does not have to be boiled), may just be a fantastic addition to our middle aged health regime.
What: take 15 grams of gelatin with 200 milligrams of vitamin C between 30-60 minutes before the chosen work out.
Duration: perform the chosen isometric or high impact exercise for no more than 10 minutes
When: Perform the repairing exercised 6 hours before or 6 hours after regular exercise.
Injury prevention: perform the repairing exercise sessions two to three times per week.
Injury management: perform as soon as possible after the injury (with a reduced load if necessary- like holding on to something to reduce the total weight) and perform up to three mini work outs per day separated by six hours.
Maintaining health in midlife includes your joints. Ensuring that you are a proper weight can also reduce your risk of joint injury. If you need help finding a sustainable weight loss program for your health goals, order my book. My book Second Chance at Health: Learn to Love Active Living and Clean Eating is an easy to read guide that can help you.
Hutchinson, Alex, Bone Up. Outside Magazine p. 68. 03/04/2019
Shaw, Greg &Lee-Barthel, Ann & Lr Ross, Megan, Want, Bing, Baar, Keith (2016). Vitamin C-enriched gelatin supplementation before intermittent activity augments collagen synthesis. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 105. 10.3945/ajcn.116.138594
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