Tendons and ligaments perform different functions: tendons connect the bones to the muscles whereas ligaments secure and move the joints. Both are crucial for movement control and mobility. Every winter many sportspeople injure their tendons and ligaments. This is because they can harden in the cold which increases the risk of injury, pain and restricted movement.
Injuries are the last thing that anyone wants to deal with. Listen to your body and if you think that you have a tendon or ligament injury take some time out from sporting activities. It’s a good idea to see a physical therapist to get some stretching and strengthening exercises that you can practise in the meantime. And remember tendons and ligaments receive less blood flow than the muscles, which means they can take longer to recover. So, you need to practise being patient as well!
Another thing to consider when you are recovering from an injury is getting at least seven hours of sleep at night. This will help the production of growth hormones which stimulate collagen synthesis; collagen is the main substance in tendons and ligaments.
You can also include some of the following nutrients in your diet to decrease recovery time and prevent future injuries from happening:
Vitamin A: encourages cell division, collagen renewal and elasticity, and tissue repair. Good food sources include salmon, eggs, cheese, sweet potatoes, and broccoli.
Vitamin C: a co-factor in collagen production. Food that provides vitamin C include broccoli, green and red peppers, citrus, and kiwifruit.
Vitamin D: helps build cartilage. You can get it from exposure to sunlight plus food sources such as salmon, sardines, egg yolks, and mushrooms (including Tremella).
Vitamin E: can help to reduce inflammation. It is found in sunflower seeds, almonds, spinach, red peppers, and rice bran oil.
Omega 3 fatty acids: these activate a natural protein in your body called collagenase that enables your cells to build collagen. Good food sources include seaweed, chia seeds, walnuts, salmon, and kidney beans.
Collagen: our tendons and ligaments are made mostly of collagen. That's why it’s one of the most important nutrients for recovery from strains, sprains, and other soft tissue injuries. Collagen also contains the amino acids proline and glycine, which are natural anti‑inflammatories that boost the immune system. Supporting immune system cells via your diet is vital to the healing process and can speed up your return to sports training after an injury. Food sources of collagen include bone broth, gelatin, and collagen powders such as Bellē and Beaū.