Are you on a search for the best supplements to heal your tendons and ligaments? It's a common plight many face, with the pain and slow recovery hindering daily life. Our expertly curated guide dives into top-notch supplements, specifically chosen for folks encountering these issues.
We're here not just to list products, but to build a trusted bond, simplifying the science so you're well-informed. Let’s tackle this healing journey together, unveiling the supplements that stand out in fostering tendon and ligament recovery.
Why Supplements Matter for Tendon and Ligament Health
Tendons and ligaments specifically have a natural healing process. A 2019 study published in the National Library of Medicine gave the three chronological stages of the healing process: inflammation, proliferation, and remodeling. Cellular processes and distinct cytokine profiles characterize these stages despite overlapping.
The inflammation phase is a protective response to clear damaged tissue and prepares the area for repair. This begins immediately with clot formation in damaged tissue after acute injury. Characterized by the expansion of the extracellular matrix, the proliferative phase is also characterized by the deposition of fibrovascular scar from fibroblasts and increased cellularity.
With the reorganization of the newly deposited collagen, remodeling of the injured area starts about two weeks following the injury. With a corresponding decrease in type III collagen, cellularity, water content in the forming scar, and vascularity, tenocytes, and collagen fibers become aligned in the direction of stress.
When it comes to accelerating recovery, certain nutrients are essential to reduce inflammation, support tissue repair, and enhance overall well-being. A 2022 study stated that antioxidants, omega-3, amino acid, creatine, and protein intake are given special recognition since they impose therapeutic roles in anabolic resistance, promoting injury healing, and reducing the risk of injury (like knee pain when squatting).
Top Supplements for Tendon and Ligament Health
Omega-3 fatty acids
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) are omega-3 fatty acids well-known for their anti-inflammatory properties. Found in foods such as sardines, mackerel, and salmon, these fatty acids can decrease cytokine production, reduce oxidative stress, and modulate immune response.
Several research shows the association between omega-3s and tendon health. A 2016 study revealed that as a promising low-cost dietary approach, an increased omega-3 fatty acid consumption may prevent declines associated with aging in muscle function and mass. A different study concluded that omega-3 fatty acid intake is beneficial to enhance skeletal muscle anabolism. However, it's essential to consider factors responsible for dependent effects such as age and metabolic status of participants, measurement technique, and protein intake.
Some of the best and most well-known sources of omega-3 fatty acids are salmon, sardines, flaxseeds, walnuts, seaweed, and eggs. In terms of the recommended dosage, the National Institute of Health gathered the data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), where the majority of children and adults consume recommended amounts of omega-3s as alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) in the U.S. average daily omega-3s ALA intake from foods is 1.32 g for females and 1.55 g for males among children and teens aged 2-19. While 1.59 g in females and 2.06 g in males is the average daily omega-3s ALA intake in adults aged 20 and older.
Derived from the root of the Curcuma longa plant, turmeric, as a popular spice, possesses anti-inflammatory properties to boost the function of tendons and ligaments. Turmeric reduces inflammatory cytokines, blocks cell migration, protects cellular structures, and increases endogenous antioxidant enzymes.
A 2020 study published by Wiley Online Library concluded that selected herbs such as turmeric extract, black pepper, and ginger could improve prostaglandin levels in patients suffering from chronic knee osteoarthritis. The dosage for these selected herbs is twice a day for 4 weeks. In a different study, results showed that when compared to acetaminophen, high-dissolution liquid treatment of Curcuma longa, black sesame extract oil, and Boswellia serrata can provide pain relief in people who have acute musculoskeletal pain.
The recommended dosage of turmeric may vary depending on age and existing condition. RxList offered specific dosages in terms of joint relation. Adults with osteoarthritis are required to take four times daily 500mg of a non-commercial turmeric product for 4-6 weeks. While 500mg of turmeric extract has been used for 6 weeks and twice daily.
As an organic sulfur compound, MSM or methylsulfonylmethane can help reduce joint inflammation, neutralize free radicals in the body, and promote collagen production. Cited in a 2020 study is the ability of MSM to impose anti-inflammatory properties and to give pain relief to patients with tendinopathies or an overuse injury where the tendon is repeatedly strain, leading to the formulation of tiny tears. Another study published in the Osteoarthritis and Cartilage Journal concluded that taking 3g twice a day of MSM improved physical function and pain without major adverse effects during the short intervention for people with knee osteoarthritis.
The recommended dosage of MSM will vary depending on your condition. If you have osteoarthritis, taking MSM for 12 weeks is recommended by 1.5 to 6 grams in three divided doses. If you have muscle damage due to exercise, take 50mg of MSM with 200 mL of water once daily for 10 days.
Glucosamine and Chondroitin
These well-known dietary supplements are responsible for joint, tendon, and ligament health. Glucosamine functions in the formation and repairment of cartilage, improves joint function, and reduces pain. Chondroitin helps maintain the function of tissues such as tendons and ligaments and possesses anti-inflammatory properties.
A combined treatment of glucosamine and chondroitin was proven effective in a 2010 study. This research was tested on rabbits, which can restore morphological and biochemical properties of injured superficial digital flexor tendons. Another study from the Journal of Medicinal Food suggests that avocado/soybean cyclooxygenase when combined with glucosamine and chondroitin can help lessen deleterious tendon inflammation.
Recommended forms of both supplements can still vary depending on conditions and preferences. Glucosamine supplements come in liquid or tablet form. Usually made from lobster, crab, and shrimp shells, supplements are divided into two forms: glucosamine hydrochloride and glucosamine sulfate.
On the other hand, chondroitin is available as chondroitin sulfate made from shark or cow cartilage. Available in forms such as powder, tablet, or capsule.
Arthritis Australia provided the recommended dosages for both supplements. Glucosamine sulfate is recommended to take 1500 mg per day, while chondroitin sulfate is recommended to take 800 - 100mg per day.
This essential mineral is involved in different physiological processes related to relaxation, muscle contraction, and overall neuromuscular function. By regulating the release of neurotransmitters and controlling nerve impulses, magnesium supports the function of the neuromuscular system.
A 2021 study from the Journal of Materials Chemistry showed that magnesium in citrate-based whitelock composite adhesives in anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction were administered to the bone-tendon interface. This can augment bone-to-tendon healing and promote the bony inward growth from the bone tunnel.
On the other hand, a 2016 study showed that magnesium improved the biomechanical properties of tendon graft during the graft healin's early phase and emphasized its potential in anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction.
Magnesium is incorporated or derived from legumes, whole grains, bananas, avocados, tofu, nuts, and seeds. As for the recommended dosage of magnesium, the Mayo Clinic provided 400-420 mg for men while 320-360 mg for women.
Known to be the most abundant protein in the human body, collagen provides stability to tissues throughout the body. It provides a flexible framework for various bones, tendons, ligaments, blood vessels, organs, and cartilage. Collagen plays a vital role in connective tissue through skin elasticity, cartilage support, and wound healing.
According to a study published in the National Library of Medicine, a specific collagen peptide supplementation (SCP) has been demonstrated on the health of ligaments and tendons to improve mechanical and functional properties of the connective tissue. In another study published in 2019 it was suggested by recent evidence that essential amino acids present in collagen can have the capability to influence the new collagen of tendons and ligaments and its synthesis when there is an optimization of tissue insertion.
When choosing the best form of collagen supplement, consider your possible existing medical condition, preferences, and dietary restrictions. Collagen can be classified into collagen peptides, capsules, liquid, and topical products.
Regarding professional recommendations, Dr. Richland of Orange County recommends taking collagen in the form of capsule or collagen peptides. He also chose the supplement consisting of all major types of collagen.
The recommended dosage still varies depending on the collagen form. In a 2020 study from the World Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, the dosage of collagen hydrolysate and its daily implementation for people with osteoporosis and osteoarthritis is 8-12g.
For collagen in powdered form, taking 1-2 tablespoons daily is suggested. While 10 grams of collagen peptides are recommended for daily intake for 5 months.
Also known as ascorbic acid, Vitamin C plays an essential role in maintaining healthy bones, skin, and blood vessels as a component of collagen synthesis. It's responsible for wound healing collagen formation and imposes antioxidant properties.
A 2018 study from the Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine showed preclinical studies that demonstrated the ability of Vitamin C to reduce oxidative stress parameters, increase type I collagen synthesis, and accelerate bone healing after a fracture. In a different study from the Journal of Orthopaedic Translation the clinical application of Vitamin C irrigation saline is effective for anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) to promote graft healing.
Vitamin C has always been accessible to several food selections. Some common food sources are pineapple, tomatoes, berries, papaya, potatoes, and Brussels. A 2000 book featured in the National Library of Medicine shows that a Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of Vitamin C is 90 mg/day for adult men and 75 mg/day for adult women. In the United States and Canada, the median dietary intake of Vitamin C is 102 mg/day and 72 mg/day for adults.
Supplement That Contains These Ingredients
Physio Flex Pro
As a comprehensive supplement, Physio Flex Pro is responsible for cartilage protection, pain reduction, and has anti-inflammatory properties.
Natural ingredients consist of glucosamine (500mg), chondroitin (100mg), turmeric extract (200mg), MSM (100mg), omega-3 fatty acids, and magnesium stearate.
Physio Flex Pro is a USA-manufactured supplement that's already FDA-registered and cGMP-verified. The recommended dosage is two capsules, which must not be taken on an empty stomach. Make sure to consume the supplement with food to lessen any gastrointestinal issues.
Natural Ways to Support Tendon and Ligament Health
It's crucial to maintain a balanced diet for the sake of improving tendon and ligament health. Vitamins, minerals, and macronutrients are essential for tissue maintenance and repair.
A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and fatty fish with anti-inflammatory properties can reduce inflammation. Salmon, mackerel, and sardines are omega-3 fatty acids that reduce joint stiffness and pain. Tendons, ligaments, and joint cartilage are connective tissues with collagen as their key component.
An adequate Vitamin C intake for collagen synthesis can support the strength and integrity of these connective tissues. Moreover, strong bones will always provide structural support, which can prevent conditions like osteoporosis.
According to a 2015 study, performing resistance training will cause tendinous and muscular adaptations in healthy athletes and patients. Such training adaptations are beneficial to improve aspects of athletic performance and to help an athlete recover from an injury. Therefore, exercise is crucial to strengthen tendons and ligaments as it provides stability to joints and muscles. Exercises increase blood flow, collagen production and enhance flexibility and range of motion.
In terms of implementing guided physical therapy, it's commonly a first-line treatment for a shoulder condition called rotator cuff tendinopathy. A 2019 study from the University of Naples showed several physical therapy approaches like extracorporeal shock wave therapy) or ESWT for treating plantar fasciitis, epicondylitis, rotator cuff tendinopathy, and Achilles and patellar tendinopathy.
Guided physical therapy is based on the type and severity of the injury, specific treatment protocols, and individual conditions. It allows the creation of a customized rehabilitation plan to assess a patient's condition.
Proper Rest and Recovery
Giving time for tendons and ligaments is crucial to experiencing overall tendon and ligament health. An adequate time for healing is vital to complete the tissue repair process, formation of new collagen fibers, and reduce inflammation. Additionally, re-injury risk is possible if you choose to rush back into sports or regular activities too soon with a healing tendon or ligament.
Speaking of rushing back into daily movements, over-exertion will likely occur when you push your body beyond its physical limits.
Potential signs of over-exerting include:
- Muscle soreness
- Shortness of breath
- Nausea or vomiting
- Cognitive changes
1. Can supplements alone heal tendons and ligaments?
Supplements can support the healing process, but it's essential to combine them with proper rest, physical therapy, and a balanced diet.
2. How long should I take these supplements?
The duration can vary based on the severity of the injury and individual needs. Always consult with a healthcare professional.
3: Are there any side effects of these supplements?
Some supplements might have side effects or interact with medications. It's crucial to consult with a healthcare provider before starting any new supplement.
4: Can I take all these supplements together?
While many of these supplements can be taken together, it's essential to ensure proper dosages and check for potential interactions. The best joint supplements do combine many of the ingredients mentioned in this list.
5: What's the difference between tendinitis and other tendon injuries?
Tendinitis refers to inflammation of the tendon, while other injuries can include tears or strains. Proper diagnosis is essential for effective treatment.
Overall, supplements will continue to play a crucial role in tendon and ligament health by supporting tissue repair, therapeutic roles in anabolic resistance, promoting injury healing, and reducing inflammation.
Inflammation, proliferation, and remodeling are three chronological or natural stages of tendon and ligament recovery that can overlap since they can remodel the injured area and reorganize a newly deposited collagen.
Keeping a holistic approach to healing allows you and medical professionals to consider the interrelation of physical, mental, and emotional well-being in recovering from various illnesses, injuries, and conditions.
Having adequate rest, maintaining a balanced diet, and considering guided physical therapy allow medical professionals to provide a comprehensive and customized healing plan based on your medical condition.