The Role of Diet and Supplementation in the recovery from tendon injuries

Rotator cuff injuries, tendinitis or tears, are common in volleyball as rotator cuff damage can be caused by repetitive movements, especially those done overhead such as spiking, blocking or serving. The pain associated with a rotator cuff injury may be described as a dull ache, and may disturb sleep and cause arm weakness.

One of the most common injuries among volleyball players involves the rotator cuff.

Injuries involving the rotator cuff can take several weeks to heal, but what if there is more you could be doing?

How can diet help?

Injuries to the tissues responsible for transferring load (muscles, tendons, ligaments, bones, and cartilage) are often the result of weakness in the extracellular matrix. Manual therapy and exercise are obviously important to stimulate healing and improve strength. However, if you give your body the right building blocks you can accelerate the healing process.

Supplements that help with tendon healing:

1) Gelatin

There is evidence to suggest that adding gelatin to an intermittent exercise program could play a beneficial role in tissue repair and collagen synthesis. Supplementing with gelatin increases the amino acids in the blood and play a role in building up collagen protein that composes of tendons, ligaments and bones. 

2) Protein

Protein helps tendon strength and B vitamins (found in protein sources) help to maintain tendon reflexes. Protein aids the body in repairing damaged tissues. The healing process exacerbates protein loss, and increasing your protein during your recovery is therefore essential. 

3) Vitamin C

Vitamin C also aids in the synthesis of collagen. Collagen is one of the main ingredients in tendons. The supplementation of Vitamin C to an injured body can thereby help repair muscle and tendon tissue.

4) Water

Adequate hydration is required in order for the body to heal and optimize performance, in any area, but especially for tissue, joints and cartilage. Proper hydration can help reduce pain and protect against further damage by keeping cartilage soft. 

Be aware your nutritional needs change depending on the course of treatment you choose. 

  • PRP – The injection induces the inflammatory response in the injured area. Avoid anti-inflammatories such as fish oil, ibuprofen, naproxen, aspirin. Add gelatin and collagen supplements.
  • Cortisone – Risk of tendon or soft tissue thinning and nerve damage. Add protein to reduce the risk of muscle wasting. Omegas as an adjunct to treatment for further potential of reducing inflammation. Avoid inflammatory foods, such as dairy or vegetable oils.
  • Anti-Inflammatories – Add a probiotic to protect gut health as stomach lining is negatively affected by anti-inflammatory medications. NSAIDs decrease prostaglandin, leading to a decrease in stomach acid. Again, avoid processed, inflammatory foods. 

Get started on fixing your shoulder today! Don’t put it off.

Tendons are not a run of the mill injury, especially if you’re an athlete. They are an indication of larger dysfunction. I personally have received two platelet-rich plasma injections for supraspinatus and subscapularis tears. It took a team of healthcare providers to put me back together. 

Understand the nutritional needs of each tendon injury are unique depending on the course of treatment you decide.