Supplements in general have fallen fall short of expectations with very few demonstrating any significant benefit beyond placebo. One of the. most common questions we currently receive on supplements in our Boulder Physical Therapy and Lafayette Physical Therapy clinics is on collagen. A key connective tissue in our body, that makes up the majority of our ligaments and tendons, collagen is currently seen as a key area of research. Scientists are exploring it as supplement for healthy and injured individuals, as well as, the most effective doses, timing, and whether or not it is best combined with exercise. Although very difficult to consume in our diets, collagen supplementation was recently studied in a group of athletes to determine its’ impact on connective tissue.
Lee and colleagues studied the impact of collagen supplementation on changes in patellar tendon composition (Frontiers In Physiology. 2023). Authors randomized 17 under 21 female soccer players to one of two conditions. Supplementation with 30 grams of collagen hydrolysate or a placebo with the same caloric total. In addition, both groups were given 500 mg vitamin C after each exercise session. Each group underwent a body weight strengthening program, plyometric jumping program, and sport specific training 3 days a week for 10 weeks. Authors examined muscle strength and patellar tendon composition both before and after the 10 week intervention period. As expected no differences were noted in muscle strength, muscle size, or tendon cross sectional area as each group underwent the same training program. Surprisingly, the collagen group showed improved tendon stiffness which is a key marker of tendon health (tendon injuries like tendinopathy often show a reduction in tendon stiffness).