As the most prevalent protein in the body, collagen is a major constituent of all connective tissues including fascia, muscle, tendons and ligaments. When we suffer injuries like sprains, strains and tears, we suffer structural damage which must be repaired in the proliferation and remodelling phases of the injury response.
During this rebuilding phase, collagen acts as both the framework for other proteins, and as a structural protein itself. As such its presence and uptake in the diet is very important during injury rehabilitation. This relies on two other, key ingredients: vitamin C and the mechanical stress of exercise. Vitamin C is required for collagen synthesis. Mechanical stress is required to stimulate collagen synthesis at the site of the injury.
Shaw et al. recently put all three of these elements together in an extremely promising study. Combining 48mg of vitamin C in 15g of gelatine (which is collagen rich) one hour before 6 minutes of skipping exercise resulted in a near doubling of synthesis of collagen precursors in the blood. This suggests that these small changes may result in significant changes to tissue remodelling, reduction in pain, and faster return to play in injured athletes.
For such a low cost, low hassle intervention, this is great news for athletes who are rehabbing an injury. The nutritionist who passed this study on to me recommended supplying vitamin C in the form kiwi fruit (or your personal preference) set in individual jelly pots. If you are sufficiently progressed in your rehab to be able to skip, the study calls for three 6 minute bouts of skipping per day, so start there. If however you are unable to skip, I believe a vibrating platform like Powerplate or similar may be a suitable replacement.
Click here to check out the full study. If you know an injured athlete who might be able to benefit from this information, be sure to forward it on to him or her.