Collagen Benefits in Sport Performance

Collagen Benefits in Sports Performance
Posted on 01/14/2022
Protein Rich Foods

Collagen Benefits in Sport Performance

Taylor S. Quenzer, LAT, ATC

Douglas County & Castle View High School




In this day and age athletes are endlessly searching for strategies that will give them the winning edge in sport performance. Whether it be creatine, protein, sodium bicarbonate, Iron, glutamine or even caffeines, all of these are sought-out sources for sport performance. But one is rising in the spotlight: collagen hydrolysate. Collagen hydrolysate has been receiving increased attention lately pertaining to the injury and prevention side of sports medicine and competition as a whole. Since soft tissue injuries account for nearly 70 percent of injuries worldwide, they are our bread and butter within athletic training. Therefore, given such a high percentage of injury, our care and prevention techniques need to shift toward pre and post exercise techniques like diet and hydration. 


Collagen, when consumed via diet 60-90 minutes before exercise and 60-90 minutes post exercise, is absorbed into the bloodstream with evident and prominently studied effects on the body. Because collagen is the most abundant and beneficial protein in the body, most research is directed to joint healing, joint fluidity, management of joint pain, connective tissue repair, flexibility, and decreased overall recovery time. What athlete does not want these benefits in their regular active daily lifestyles? Since we all paid attention in anatomy and physiology class I hope, we know that proteins are the building blocks for life and undergo countless types of extreme stressors. Meaning our athletes constantly need to replenish and refuel to help support these types of tissues within the body. 


Collagen is an important and primary protein that provides elasticity and reformation of many tissue types within our amazing bodies. Food sources such as chicken, fish, egg whites, tropical fruits, leafy green vegetables, and (not everyone's favorite) tomatoes. However, nutrition is where our athletes are lacking especially in the younger populations, and quite honestly it's the most important factor during season and competition. When asked what they ate for lunch, many of my athletes on a day-to-day basis responded with “Takis”,  “McDonalds”, “Mountain Dew and chips”. Now I am most certainly not a certified dietician or a licensed nutritionist, but I can tell you for a fact that isn't going to cut it. Especially during injury or recovery. Poor nutrition and poor hydration can effectively lead to longer recovery times, increased risk of injury, and poor performance overall. According to the International Olympic Committee, when collagen is  consumed at the elite level it has been shown to accelerate the recovery process, reduce significant injury, and reduce joint pain and inflammation.


As we all know, strength and conditioning greatly affects the human body via our bones, muscles, ligaments, tendons, connective tissues, nerves and so on. Frequent and intense exercise reduces our collagen percentages therefore potentially creating more risk of soft tissue and joint injury and inflammation. Athletic trainers are in the business of pain management and injury prevention, it is part of our job to give this information to our athletes and be an open book for everyone when necessary. Just remember to be mindful and sensitive of individual nutritional beliefs, allergies, and accessibility. 


Proper nutrition, hydration, rest, and recovery will give our athletes the edge they will need to compete at the highest of levels all while reducing risk of injuries, inflammation, and overall joint pain.    


References:


Clark KL, Sebastianelli W, Flechsenhar KR, Aukermann DF, Meza F, Millard RL, Deitch JR, Sherbondy PS, Albert A. 24-Week study on the use of collagen hydrolysate as a dietary supplement in athletes with activity-related joint pain. Curr Med Res Opin. 2008 May;24(5):1485-96. doi: 10.1185/030079908x291967. Epub 2008 Apr 15. PMID: 18416885.

Garone, Sarah. “13 Foods That Boost Your Body's Natural Collagen Production.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 26 Feb. 2019, https://www.healthline.com/health/beauty-skin-care/collagen-food-boost. 

Hearris, Mark. “Improving Sports Performance with Collagen Supplements.” Nutraceutical Business Review, 1 Apr. 2020, https://nutraceuticalbusinessreview.com/news/article_page/Improving_sports_performance_with_collagen_supplements/151330

R.J. Maughan, et al., “IOC Consensus Statement: Dietary Supplements and The High-Performance Athlete,” Int. J. Sport Nutr. Exerc. Metab. 28(2), 104–125 (2018).

Shields, Teagan. “Collagen for Athletes? Here's What the Science Says.” FreshCap Mushrooms, 22 Nov. 2020, https://learn.freshcap.com/tips/collagen-for-athletes/. 

T. Clifford, et al., “The Effects of Collagen Peptides on Muscle Damage, Inflammation and Bone Metabolism Following Exercise: A Randomized, Controlled Trial,” submitted for publication (2018).


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