Taking Care of Your Tendons and Connective Tissues

Tendon 1

I came across an article on written by Dr. Crownover, a sports medicine physician, about five dietary interventions that can improve tendon health, and it got me thinking about all the different things that I’m doing currently doing to maintain my connective tissue health.

In the past year, as I’ve increased my training volume to BJJ 4-5x per week and weightlifting 1-2x per week, I’ve luckily avoided any significant injuries to set me back.

(I did have a minor bout of tendinitis at one point when I stupidly doubled my BJJ training volume to almost 10 sessions in one week… but I managed to recover after a week or two of rest and some ART).

I attribute this long span of injury-freeness to many of the changes I’ve made, including the four interventions listed in the article that I’m incidentally already doing, which include:

1. Low Carbohydrate Diet

Dr. Crownever points to numerous studies associating elevated blood sugars with poor tendon health due to accumulation of advanced glycation endproducts and oxidative stress.

“Reducing simple processed sugar and acellular carbohydrate intake will likely reduce the accumulation of AGE’s and therefore reduce the associated collagen cross linking, inflammation and oxidative damage.”

2. Improving body composition

This is something I’ve been working on for the past few years and while I haven’t given many updates as to the status of this, I can safely say that it’s been improving, albeit at a glacial pace.  An improved body composition obviously decreases the mechanical load on tendons and connective tissue, but also, can reduce overall systemic inflammation.

3. Turmeric 

Curcumin, which is the active ingredient is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory which can reduce the accumulation of advanced glycation endproducts in connective tissues.  While it’d be more optimal for me to get this from whole food sources, I get most of mine in the form of:

I do confess to not having taken much of these things in the past few months while I’ve been tinkering with my cholesterol.

4. Green Tea

Has anti-inflammatory properties, reduces AGE accumulation, and improves tendon healing.

5. Glycine

This is an amino acid that is an important component of tendons and other connective tissues which also has anti-inflammatory properties.

I’m proud to say that the BJJ Cavewife and I have been doing a good job of getting in our bone broth which really hits the spot now that winter is here.

Sometimes after a couple hard days of training, I do supplement a bit with a tablespoon or two of Dave Asprey’s Upgraded Collagen in my morning cup of tea.

A couple other changes I’ve made that have definitely helped my connective tissue health are:

6. No more shift work

I learned first hand how badly shift work can screw up your body and changed jobs.  As a shift worker, the only hope is to minimize the damage, but in my experience, the damage cannot be fully prevented.  It’s like facing a hurricane.  You can put up all the sandbags you want, dig ditches, and board up windows, but there’s only so much you can do because the hurricane’s still going to bring destruction in its wake.

7. Taking things slowly

I’ve also learned firsthand what can happen if I rush things too much.  In my BJJ training, I’m doing a much better job of setting my ego aside and tapping out early to minimize any chances of injury.  My skill has improved to the level where I no longer need to use a lot of my strength or go all out, which also minimizes chances of injury.

With my weight lifting I haven’t been in a rush to increase the load of the lifts.  I’ve really taken what Coach Sommer espouses to heart and am allowing my connective tissue time to catch up to my strength.

I’ve also been doing a better job of listening to my body.  If I don’t have it, I don’t have it, and I’m not going to force in a training session just because.  I’m slowly accepting the fact that I’m not a professional athlete (this is a weird thing to admit out-loud)

8. Anti-Oxidants

With my Anti-Cholesterol Gameplan, I’ve been taking a couple of supplements that are high in antioxidants which can only help with the oxidative stress my connective tissue is subject to with my current regimen.  The two main supplements are:

  • Athletic Greens – I’ve been taking this fairly regularly for over a year now and am still loving it.
  • Raw Reserve High ORAC Green Powder Berry Flavor – Part of Grace Liu Pharm D’s bionic fiber.  I’ve only recently stopped taking this with the removal of bionic fiber from my anti cholesterol regimen.

Final Thoughts

I’ve probably neglected to mention the most common factor in my recent string of good connective tissue health which is simply ‘LUCK.’  I know that because I engage in an active life style, I’m pretty much guaranteed to suffer some sort of injury.

I simply do what I can to control what I can control.  I wear the necessary protective gear and do my best to take care of my body.  That’s all any of us can do.

*Image found here

2 Responses to Taking Care of Your Tendons and Connective Tissues

  1. Butch Pornebo says:

    if you are doing magnesium then use magnesium glycinate. magnesium bonded to glycine to better absorption @ 90%+

    I take mine at night because aside from magnesium helping you relax, glycine helps in mitochondria / atp recovery and puts you in a very deep sleep. I used to wake-up after 4 hrs and taking to much effort just to get back to sleep. But since I started using mg glycinate easy 6 to 7 hrs straight and it feels that I was in a deep deep REM sleep. Not groggy BUT more refresh even after a late night start.

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