Ask any athlete, recreational to elite, if they have had an issue with tendinopathy and the answer is generally going to be ‘yes’. When I was training for my marathon, 6 weeks before the race, I was struck down by Achilles tendinopathy. While this condition can be niggling and debilitating, it is also absolutely avoidable. As we have a strong team focus at the clinic, I have been able to provide education to our team in regards to the role nutrition may play in avoiding or managing tendinopathy.
Below, I will guide you through what I look for in my assessment if I have had an athlete referred due to tendinopathy or has a history of tendinopathy.
– Tim (Clinic Sports Dietitian)
1. ENERGY AVAILABILITY
This refers to the overall energy intake you are consuming on a daily basis. We are commonly seeing athletes that have ‘low energy availability’ or an energy intake which is lower than their activity output, and therefore the athlete is going to be at an increased risk of suffering from tendinopathy. This is due to not enough fuel being available for the working muscles, and the muscle getting fatigued at a much earlier rate. This can lead to poor concentration on technique or poor pacing (if you are a runner), which then increases your risk of tendinopathy. This is where we need to be correctly timing our carbohydrate intake in order for the energy to be available as you are peaking with your training session.
You don’t necessarily need a lot to get you started, starting with ½ banana so that you can get familiar with having food before training, then progressing to a full banana. This will ensure that your fuel stores in your muscle are spared for as long as possible, until they are really needed.
2. GELATIN AND VITAMIN C
The research from this has been emerging but very consistent in regards to its ability to manage AND prevent tendinopathy. It works by being able to increase the presence of amino acids within the system, which is allowing for greater collagen synthesis and tissue repair. The greater amino acid presence is able to reduce the inflammatory process.
In order to gain the benefits of the Gelatine/Vitamin C mix, consuming 15g Gelatine along with 50mg Vitamin C (Eg. 80ml Ribena juice OR 1 x Vitamin C tablet) 1hr before exercise is recommended.
Who will this benefit:
Endurance athletes (especially if there is speed/tempo work involved)
People involved in sports with repeated sprints (Eg. basketball, football)
Athletes with a history of tendinopathy
Peptipro from Gelatin Australia
Great Lakes Gelatin
*Note that I am not paid by these companies
Ensure that you are matching your fuel needs with your current training program. Ensure that you work with your coach to determine when your training will be increasing and to increase carbohydrates prior to a session and protein/carbohydrates after your session in order to reduce your risk of having low energy availability.
Taking 15g Gelatin and 50mg Vitamin C 1hr before your training session has shown that it is able to prevent tendinopathy occurring and able to best manage this issue.
Please don’t hesitate to contact The Injury Clinic on (03) 5229 3911 if you would like to book an appointment with our Dietitian, Tim, to discuss nutrition as a preventative and management strategy for tendinopathy.
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