Whether you’re a professional footballer, a keen marathon runner or a weekend warrior, your joints take a beating every time you run, jump, squat or skip.
You’re unlikely to notice your joints when things are going smoothly. But as you age and start to experience joint issues, your joint health suddenly becomes more of a focus.
As with everything in your body, things happen for a reason – and one of the reasons that joint issues come with age is collagen, or rather a lack of it.
Let’s explore what collagen can do for athletes and how to limit the loss of collagen as you grow older.
What is Collagen?
Collagen is a vital nutrient and the most abundant protein in your body, with 16 different types of collagens all doing different things. It’s naturally created in your body when certain amino acids are combined.
Collagen is used to provide strength and structure to your bones, teeth, tendons and cartilage, and is crucial for skin health and hydration. This is why collagen features prominently in the beauty industry, as it can help to combat visible signs of ageing, such as wrinkles.
While athletes may not be as concerned with a few wrinkles on their skin, collagen is just as important for maintaining healthy tendons, cartilage, bones and joints.
As we grow into our mid-20s, we begin to both lose more collagen and produce less collagen year-on-year – around 1-2% on average. This is bad news for athletes who still push their bodies hard week in, week out.
For example, cartilage – which is made up of collagen – can become thinner, leading to bones rubbing together, resulting in discomfort and swelling in the joints. Bones are also mostly made of collagen, so lower levels of the protein can lead to weaker bones that are more susceptible to breaks.
Luckily, you don’t have to put up with joint issues or hang up your running shoes – there are multiple ways to reduce the rate of collagen loss.
How Can Athletes Combat Declining Collagen Levels?
While we may naturally lose collagen, we can try to remedy this by consuming more in our daily routines.
The first thing to consider is your diet. Increasing the number of collagen-rich foods on the menu can be a smart move. This means including animal products such as beef, chicken and fish, while bone broths are becoming another popular way to boost collagen levels.
The main issue with the diet route is that the food you would have to eat to achieve high levels of collagen becomes unrealistic for many people. For example, you need to consume one serving of meat to take in roughly 1,000-2,000mg of collagen. When you’re watching your weight or don’t have the time to cook and eat five portions of steak a day, this can become problematic.
This is why many athletes turn their attention towards collagen supplements. For the sake of comparison, a single serving of our TRR Pro Advanced Collagen contains 10,000mg of marine collagen in a convenient and easy-to-drink 50ml shot.