Why athletes should be using collagen for injuries
October 14, 2019
Athletes and professional sportsmen look after their bodies. Amongst other things, this can include using collagen for injuries prevention and to aid with healing.
Does taking collagen for injuries – either before or after – actually work though? And if yes, how? Let us take a look.
Super fit, super strong
Athletes spend hours in training.
This not only enhances natural talents with running, hand-eye coordination and stamina, but it makes the body stronger. Bones, ligaments, tendons and even the skin all experience improvements that make it possible for the powerful manoeuvres that we see on the field of play – moves that would cause a non-athlete serious pain and injuries but that athletes shake off without thinking twice.
Eating the right foods are important for professional sportsmen, and enthusiastic amateurs too, because the right amounts of good fats, protein and carbohydrates work in the body to nourish all the body’s systems, to repair muscles and tendons as well as bulk them out, and to provide enough energy to keep the body working at optimal levels.
Eating enough is very important, too. High quality muscle burns a lot of calories and sportsmen need more than the daily average of 2,000 for women, or 2,500 calories for men, that the rest of the population requires.
Even at rest, an athletic body will burn more than the usual quantity of calories due to a high-muscle mass boosting the metabolic rate of the body.
After exercise, all bodies enjoy a boosted metabolic rate, when calories are burned off at an accelerated rate – for up to three hours after the exercise ends.
With professional sportsmen sometimes working out two or three times a day for two to five hours at a time, it is no real surprise to understand that they need a lot more nourishment than sedentary people.
Just as with food, sportsmen and women need to drink more water than the average recommendation.
Staying hydrated not only helps the body to remain healthy and strong, but it can also help in other ways, including maintaining the moisture barrier of the skin, combating the signs and symptoms of aging and ensuring that the athlete does not become dehydrated which can cause serious problems including weakness and poor performance during games and sporting events, dizziness and disorientation and even fainting and more serious issues such as heat stroke and lethargy, and confusion.
Sportsmen and women can lose condition if they do not get the right amount of sleep. This can include having too much sleep as well as having too little.
The body uses sleep time as the ideal opportunity for downtime repairs and maintenance, healing minor injuries, repairing the body and helping to keep all the systems working effectively and efficiently.
When you start missing sleep – even if it is just one or two hours a week – your body is forced to take shortcuts, like an overworked mechanic leaving the oil change for an extra week, or using retreads instead of new tyres.
At first, these subtle changes go unnoticed, but if the loss of sleep is allowed to accumulate, the athlete will find their peak performance is not all that could be desired. Scientists still do not fully understand the mechanism of sleep – they know what happens, but not why or how it happens.
They do know, however, that loss of too much sleep affects mental health and acuity, physical fitness and coordination and can, ultimately, result in the death of the sufferer.
So far, we have covered all the natural ways that sportsmen can keep their bodies in great condition, reducing the risk of injuries and aiding any recovery that might be needed. They train, they eat well, stay hydrated and sleep well.
However, in today’s high-intensity world, this is no longer enough to achieve the almost superhuman levels of fitness and conditioning that modern athletes need to stay on top of their game.
Therefore, many top athletes use nutritional supplements to help their bodies stay in peak condition, so they always perform at their absolute best when it counts.
However, because modern sports are so very intense and often high impact, sports injuries are common. Often they are minor and only result in a week or a couple of days of rest before the athlete is recovered and ready to get back out there, but sometimes they can be more serious, requiring months out, which can result in a player losing out on a whole season of the sport they love. Whichever type of injury, there are steps the athlete can take to make sure their recovery is full and as quick as possible.
Coaches and trainers will ensure that players have good access to physiotherapists who will monitor the recovery of the limb, making sure muscle mass is maintained without worsening the injury.
Again, eating properly and getting enough sleep and water will help the body to do its best. But often, recovery can be aided by doubling up on nutrients that will boost the body’s efforts. Calcium is excellent for strengthening and mending bones, ironworks to boost calcium absorption and collagen is a really useful agent in repair and recovery.
Just recently, tennis star Andy Murray opened up about using collagen to get back on the court after a hip injury.
As well as taking collagen for injuries that have already occurred and as a preventative, sportsmen and women take collagen for a number of other reasons.
Building muscle occurs through repeated minor injuries. Bodybuilders use the term ‘ripped’ for a very good reason: they work their muscles until the tiny muscle fibres ‘shred’ away from each other. Then, as they heal, they bulk out, sort of like forming scar tissue over the injury site.
So far so good, and a carefully managed bulking program can work without causing pain or long term damage, but the build-up of muscle mass can cause issues through its very bulk.
Highly muscled people can struggle to maintain their full range of motion because the mass of muscle actually blocks their limbs and bodies from moving in certain ways. This is highly undesirable in sportsmen who rely on speed and agility, so they must build their muscle mass a different way.
Supplementary muscle mass
Taking a collagen supplement alongside training can help the muscle fibres to stretch as they bulk out. This retains the flexibility and mobility that is needed for high level sports, while still letting the athlete train to the point of optimal fitness, gaining the best of both worlds.
This is because collagen works on almost every level of the body: keeping bones and cartilage strong and flexible, strengthening and adding elasticity to tendons and ligaments, hydrating and keeping the skin flexible and supple, and even working down on a cellular level to repair each cell to perfect health.
The best collagen contains hydrolysed peptides, made from marine products. Being hydrolysed it is more easily absorbed and put to use by the body, and marine collagen has tested out as being the best natural collagen that you can find.
How do you use collagen for injuries?
The body’s response to an injury is usually to make the muscles in the area stiff. This is an ideal response for bone breaks: the muscles go into spasm around the damaged bone, holding it in place so the jagged ends cannot move about and tear into the tissues.
However, the stiffness can persist even after the bone has been set, and it can be painful and time-consuming to try and exercise out the stiffness.
Collagen, by its very nature, is designed to loosen this sort of muscular stiffness, adding fluidity and reach back into joint movements. This means that once the original injury has been resolved – and collagen can help here too, aiding the healing process by helping to repair the damage, and doing it without causing too much scar tissue damage. This means that recovery from the injury is likely to be quicker and more complete.
The full range of motion will be most likely be regained, muscles, tendons and ligaments will regain their original strength and the injury will be less likely to recur: not a bad result from a simple supplement that only needs to be taken once a day! As a bonus, a ‘side effect’ of taking collagen will leave the user with softer, more supple skin, and reduced signs of ageing. Win, win.
How do collagen supplements work to prevent injuries?
Think of collagen as being a sort of all-purpose adhesive-lubricant. This may sound like a paradox, but it does bear further examination.
The joints of the body are designed to be as frictionless as possible, the bones sliding and moving over the other thanks to the smooth flat plates of cartilage that mark the divisions between the bones.
These parts need the lubricant effect of collagen, which ensures that the movement is smooth, without any worn areas or spurs that might cause pain or limit mobility. The bones need to be strong, with firm muscle attachments and strong but flexible tendons and ligaments holding the bones in place.
This is where the ‘adhesive’ part comes in, with collagen helping to form strong structures within the body that can move and be subject to the tremendous pressures involved in high-level sports: whether it is running, jumping, kicking or slamming into other players or the ground. While the limbs must be free to move, they should have limits of movement, beyond which injury would occur: collagen helps to impose these limits of motion by strengthening limbs and joints so they will not travel beyond a safe flexion.
An easy-to-take collagen supplement like Absolute Collagen can be taken before or after a workout, mixed in protein shakes and smoothies, or taken straight from the sachet. Each sachet contains 8000mg of hydrolyzed marine collagen, as well as 7.7 grams of protein.
Collagen for injuries, whether preventing them or recovering from them, is a boon: aiding recovery, maintaining strength and flexibility, and helping to improve all round health.