The importance of regular physical activity should never be under estimated. Not only does it play a key role in weight management, it has also been proven to reduce the risk of major illnesses such as heart disease, cancer and stroke, while improving mental health and lowering the risk of early death.
Exercise is therefore undoubtedly hugely beneficial for all, regardless of age or ability - from keen amateurs to professional sportspeople. But in order to maximise the benefits, and reduce the risk of injury, appropriate supplementation is key. However, the benefits of supplements and their ingredients, such as collagen peptides, must be scientifically proven and measurable. Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body and is essential for good health, and the functioning and maintenance of connective tissue.
That is why the positive outcomes of recent investigations into the benefits of specific supplementation on the strength and flexibility of ligaments and tendons have catapulted Bioactive Collagen Peptides into the sports nutrition spotlight. And as a result, these natural proteins are enjoying increasing popularity in the food and dietary supplements market, particularly among professional athletes.
Alexandra Wenk, a 24-year-old professional swimmer, has experienced the benefits of Bioactive Collagen Peptides firsthand, thanks to GELITA’s TENDOFORTE and FORTIGEL.
World and European medal-winner Alexandra says she started to have problems with her right knee in the spring of 2018, which massively affected her training regime.
“I was only able to exercise the upper part of my body,” she recalls. “I had to eliminate all kinds of leg exercises, so had no chance of remaining competitive.”
Knee specialist Dr James Bruckner diagnosed bursa inflammation, cartilage damage and accumulation of liquid in the knee. Surgery was therefore unavoidable, followed by intensive rehabilitation.
As part of that rehab, Dr Bruckner recommended daily supplementation with 5g TENDOFORTE to support the recovery of the connective tissue and 5g FORTIGEL to regenerate the damaged cartilage.
The Bioactive Collagen Peptides in FORTIGEL are proven to stimulate joint cartilage regeneration and effectively tackle its progressive degeneration. That means they can counteract wear and tear on joint cartilage caused by factors such as ageing, excess weight or, in Alexandra’s case, strenuous physical exercise. Their advantage over other ingredients often used to improve joint conditions is that they treat the cause of the problem and not just the symptoms.
TENDOFORTE , meanwhile, also with Bioactive Collagen Peptides , has been optimised to strengthen tendons and ligaments. It has been proven to reduce the incidence of sports injuries and accelerate recovery by stimulating the biosynthesis of new extracellular proteins necessary for healthy tendons and ligaments
“By mid-2018 I was able to return to a full training schedule and within a short time, I was back to full intensity,” says Alexandra. “I was very satisfied with my recovery progress and it wasn’t long before I was able to exercise without feeling any pain in my knee. I’m pretty sure the supplementation with these Bioactive Collagen Peptides played a significant role in getting me back to my optimum performance level in such a short time. My knee is 100% recovered and absolutely stable.”
Promoting natural healing
Alexandra’s experience is borne out by a recent study showing that these collagen peptides can promote the natural healing process.
The Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) study , published in January 2019 in the peer-reviewed journal Nutrients, was double-blind and placebo-controlled using TENDOFORTE .
Participants were given a placebo (maltodextrin) or TENDOFORTE in combination with bi-daily, eccentric calf-strengthening exercises for 6 months, using a cross-over design. Group AB received specific collagen peptides for the first 3 months before crossing over to the placebo, whereas Group BA received the placebo first before crossing over to the specific collagen peptides. At baseline, after three and six months, all patients were asked to rate their subjective Achilles tendon pain and functional limitations using a Victorian Institute of Sports Assessment–Achilles (VISA-A) questionnaire. Scores increased significantly in group AB (12.6) compared with 5.3 in group BA. After crossing over, both groups showed significant improvements in VISA-A of 5.9 (AB) and 17.7 (BA).
In real-life terms, subjects with long-term symptoms of chronic Achilles tendinopathy were able to return to training within three months, when supplementing with TENDOFORTE .
Preventive nutritional intervention
“The study reveals TENDOFORTE as the very first nutritional solution that goes to the root of the problem,” says Suzane Leser, Director of Nutrition Communication at GELITA AG. “The incidence of over use injury in sports has risen, not only because of greater participation in recreational and competitive sports, but also as a result of the increased duration and intensity of training, creating a real need for nutritional strategies to strengthen the connective tissue. It acts both as a preventive nutritional intervention for tendon and ligament problems, and also helps injured athletes get back to their former performance levels more quickly.”
Easy to incorporate
Thomas Röhler, an elite javelin thrower, would agree with that.
“My trainer and I are always looking for ways to optimise the structure of the connective tissue for maximum performance in javelin throwing,” he says. “In addition to training methods, we always try to view the sport holistically and in harmony with nutrition and recovery.”
And so, on the recommendation of Dr Robert Schleip, director of the Fascia Research Group and board member of the international Fascia Research Society, Thomas began supplementing with TENDOFORTE during training for the first six months of 2018. During this time, the focus was on increasing throw intensity and reducing the risk of injury.
“The supplementation was intended to address the fascia in particular,” says Thomas. “Mixed into a sports recovery drink or smoothie, it was easy to incorporate the product into existing routines.
“After a short time, I felt more tension and energy in the movement sequence at different load levels. What’s more, there was a measurable increase of explosive force in comparison to the maximum force during the test period of supplementation. This effect is very important for javelin throwing because maximum force is usually accompanied by undesired hypertrophy (muscle growth), but a good explosive force is necessary to achieve maximum distances.
“We achieved a similar increase in speed in earlier years, whenever we directly stimulated fascia with targeted training content. However, the extent of this increase was much greater and easier to achieve through additional supplementation with TENDOFORTE .”
David Storl, a 28-year-old World and European Championship-winning shot-putter has had an equally positive experience with TENDOFORTE , since suffering chronic patellar spike syndrome back in 2011.
He had surgery in 2015, followed by a number of injections which he says led to the formation of necrotising tissue in the left patellar tendon.
After switching to a new coach in October 2017, David worked on his shot put technique, as well as the stability of his knees, and the strengthening of his torso and hip muscles.
“Around the same time, I came into contact with Dr Jutta Hugenberg, a scientist at GELITA,” recalls David. “She recommended daily oral supplementation with TENDOFORTE for six months. It massively supported the reconstruction of my damaged patellar tendon and fascia tissue. As a result, I was able to achieve intensive and extensive loads in a very short period of time, and went on to have my first pain-free competition in 2018.”
TENDOFORTE has now become part of David’s daily nutrient supplementation routine. “It improves recovery of tendons and ligaments from intensive training loads, which is important for me because I’m only able to achieve further records in shot put with elastic yet strong ligaments and tendons,” he says.
Middle distance runner Rorey Hunter has had similar success with supplementation too – but his chosen supplement was FORTIBONE , a bone health ingredient that received the German Innovation Award 2019 in the “Excellence in B2B, Pharmaceuticals” category, with its specific Bioactive Collagen Peptides® proven to counteract loss in bone mineral density.
“I have been taking FORTIBONE for about 12 months now, and feel I have benefited tremendously as a result,” he says. “I have found I am able to sustain my high training loads of over 130km per week and have had no interruptions with bone stress or tendon injuries, which have hampered my preparations in the past. As a result of this ability to recover more quickly, my performances have also seen a significant improvement.”
His experiences are reflected in a new study showing that supplementation with the specific collagen peptides in FORTIBONE can support bone health by increasing bone mineral density.
“The Bioactive Collagen Peptides stimulate osteoblast cells to increase the production of the extracellular bone matrix, the essential framework that supports calcium mineralization,” adds Leser.
Rorey has achieved three new personal bests in the last 12 months and says: “I would highly recommend FORTIBONE to anyone looking to gain an edge over their competitors, and reach their physical best performance. I am in the best shape of my life and am very happy to continue with this supplementation.”