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Can collagen help runners?

Legs of two runners showing how important knees are to keeping you running

You may have heard about the use of collagen to improve the quality of skin, hair and nails, but did you know that it’s also being used by those following an active lifestyle? In fact, endurance athletes – particularly runners – are starting to incorporate a daily dose of collagen into their diets as a recovery protein to reduce injury and to support their body’s health. After all, maximising time spent training while minimising time lost to injury, is key to reaching optimum performance levels. Here’s what you need to know about collagen.

Although running has increased in popularity over recent decades, 50% of runners experience an injury each year that prevent them from running for a period of time. Most injuries involve the knee, lower leg, ankle and foot with medial tibial stress syndrome (“shin splints”) and patellofemoral pain syndrome among the most common running injuries.

If your body doesn’t have enough collagen – the protein that supports the health of your skin, muscles, bones, tendons, ligaments and other connective tissues – it may struggle to withstand the mechanical demands of running. This is especially the case if you are out pounding the streets with regular long runs.

As we start to lose collagen from the age of about 20, supplementation should be seriously considered if you don’t have a high collagen diet (sourced from foods such as offal, gristle, fish skin and bone). And let’s face it, the majority of us will find a collagen supplement far more appealing!

So what’s the science behind collagen supplements?

In 2014, Jiang et al. published the findings of a clinical study that found a link between collagen supplementation and improved joint health. This is supported by a further 2016 study which found clear evidence of type 1 collagen peptide’s ability to promote positive joint health.

In relation to athletes in particular, studies are confirming the value of collagen peptide supplements. In one study, a group of young athletes took a daily dose of collagen peptides in orange juice for a period of 24 weeks. The resulting data shows a trend for a decrease in joint pain, especially in the knees, but also in the arms, shoulders, and hands during and after physical activity. Plus, further research has identified the benefits of collagen peptides for improving the mechanical properties of the Achilles tendon.

A recent breakthrough study, has identified collagen’s benefits to exercise recovery with it highlighting how collagen peptides alleviate muscle soreness and accelerate recovery after intense exercise. In the study, supplementation with collagen peptides clearly lowered the perceived muscle soreness at all time points after intense muscle-damaging exercise. Even more strikingly, the supplemented participants demonstrated an improved performance with the effect reaching statistical significance at 48 hours post exercise.

So collagen supplements are backed by science, effectively improving the health of muscles, bones, tendons, ligaments, skin and other connective tissues, as well as aiding exercise recovery. They can prevent cartilage degeneration, joint inflammation and reduce joint discomfort. Plus, hydrolysed/peptides collagen (collagen that’s been broken down into tiny particles) is absorbed easier by the body.  In fact, our own Run Easy marine collagen peptides powder (insert link) has very high bioavailability, reaching the blood stream without breaking down after just one hour of intake.

Prevention is always better than cure and when it comes to running, the constant pounding of your joints and ligaments puts stresses on your body that could result in injury. Ensuring you have enough collagen will help to strengthen your muscles, tendons, ligaments and connective tissues (as well as your skin, hair and nails), while reducing joint discomfort and muscle soreness. But ensure you choose a supplement that is pure marine collagen from a reputable source, and isn’t full of unnecessary additives so you aren’t compromising your health.

Check out our Run Easy marine collagen peptides powder. Run Easy is pure powdered collagen with no added nasties. Every batch is tested for heavy metals and toxins and it’s non-GMO and gluten-free.

Want to learn more?

Find out why marine collagen supplements are superior in our collagen blog

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