Pilot study links oral collagen supplementation with reduced heel pain in runners

By Adi Menayang

- Last updated on GMT

Getty Images / Ross Helen
Getty Images / Ross Helen

Related tags Collagen Collagen peptides

Oral supplementation of a specific collagen peptide, when paired with calf exercises, may help accelerate ‘return-to-running’ programs in individuals with heel pain.

These results came out of a pilot study conducted by researchers from the University of Canberra and the Australian Institute of Sport. Their goal was to assess the potential benefits of ingesting a collagen peptide called Tendoforte, commercialized by the study’s funder, gelatin giant Gelita.

Tendoforte is Gelita’s latest collagen peptide brand, developed to strengthen the body’s naturally collagen-rich tendons and ligaments. The ingredient launch last year coincided with Gelita’s business strategy of increased focus beyond the beauty-from-within sector, where collagen has long been a staple ingredient.

“With more than 50% of all injuries in sports classified as sprains, strains, ruptures or breaks of musculoskeletal tissue – musculoskeletal injuries are the most common complaint within the active population,”​ a spokesperson from Gelita told NutraIngredients-USA.

In this pilot study, the researchers measured and compared multiple outcomes of study participants who ingested the collagen peptide versus those who ingested a placebo product. The results were published last week​ in the journal Nutrients​.

Study details and results

Study participants were individuals who have wished to return to pain-free running and had either uni- or bilateral Achilles tendon tenderness of palpation. Eighteen individuals completed the study.

The researchers divided participants into two groups. One group ingested a 2.5g  sachet of powdered, hydrolyzed specific collagen peptides (Tendoforte) for three months before switching to consuming 2.5g of maltodextrin (placebo) for another three months.

The second group ingested the 2.5g of maltodextrin first for three months before switching over to ingesting 2.5g of Tendoforte.

In addition to supplementation, the participants followed an eccentric calf-strengthening program consisting of multiple exercises.

Participants were asked to rate their subjective Achilles tendon pain and functional limitations using a standardized questionnaire. Researchers assessed the outcome based on the participants’ questionnaire results and ultrasound measurements of tendons.

By the end of the study, 12 out of the 18 participants were able to return to running. In terms of Achielles tendon microvascularity (measured by ultrasound) and blood markers, researchers did not find significant changes between groups.

“Although this pilot study has limited statistical power and requires duplication in a larger clinical trial, oral supplementation of [Tendoforte] may accelerate the clinical benefits of a well-structured calf-strengthening and return-to-running program in patients with chronic Achilles tendinopathy symptoms,”​ according to the authors.

Published online, doi:10.3390/nu11010076
"Oral Supplementation of Specific Collagen Peptides Combined with Calf-Strengthening Exercises Enhances Function and Reduces Pain in Achilles Tendinopathy Patients"
Authors: Stephan F.E. Praet, et al.

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