What did this study look at?
The incidence of musculoskeletal injuries by impeding normal training activity, plays an important limiting role in athletic talent development. In fact, objectives of athletes often remain unaccomplished because injuries ruining performance. Therefore, any intervention that may reduce the incidence of musculoskeletal injuries is likely to benefit athletic performance. An exercise program focusing on the improvement of neuromuscular, proprioceptive, and strength deficits for sure is first choice in the prophylaxis of joint injuries. However, nutritional supplementation might also play a role. Despite several decades of research the case for glucosamine and chondroitin to protect joint health is weak. However, recent findings indicate that collagen peptide (CP) administration by stimulation of collagen synthesis in connective tissue (ligaments, tendons, fascia) may be a more valid approach to protect joint health.
In this regard, Dressler and co-workers from the universities of Freiburg and Kiel in Germany, investigated the effect of daily collagen intake on ankle stability in athletes with chronic ankle instability due to previous injury. Fifty male and female athletes recruited from soccer, basketball, or track and field, received 5g CP daily, or a corresponding placebo, over a 6 months period. In addition, subjects performed 3 weekly training sessions consisting of rope skipping, squats, and one-legged heel raises. Before and after the intervention, ankle stiffness, subjectively perceived ankle function, as well as re-injury rate of ankle sprains during 3 months after the intervention were assessed.
What did the study show?
Compared with placebo, CP supplementation did not improve objective measures of mechanical ankle stability. However, CP slightly improved the subjective perception of ankle stability. Interestingly from a clinical perspective, CP also reduced the incidence of ankle sprains during the 3 months follow-up after the 6-months treatment period.
What is the importance of this finding for sports performance?
Stimulation of collagen biosynthesis in the musculoskeletal system is important to maintain connective tissue integrity during episodes of elevated strain due to exercise training. This study shows that long-term ingestion of easily digestible collagen peptides in conjunction with an exercise training program to enhance ankle stability, can beneficially impact on the subjective perception of ankle stability and potentially reduce the incidence of ankle re-injuries in athletes afflicted by chronic ankle instability.
Overall this study indicates that collagen peptide supplementation combined with joint stability-training may contribute to maintenance of joint health and stability in well-trained athletes.