Finding the best supplements for healing tendons and ligaments is one of the best things you can do to support your body’s healing process.
Most advice for healing tendons and ligaments boils down to “hurry up and wait”. Tips like RICE can provide immediate relief, but they don’t do much to support your body’s ability to heal itself from the inside out.
Nutrients like the ones found in whole foods and supplements are underappreciated powerhouses of healing. Why? Unlike ice, compression, or elevation, you’re giving your body materials it can really use to heal.
Tendon and ligament injuries are some of the most common injuries you can get. And yet despite being so common, many people don’t quite know what tendons or ligaments are. In some cases, you may not even have heard of a “tendon” prior to injuring yours!
So before we dive into the best supplements for healing tendons and ligaments, let’s discuss what your tendons and ligaments are.
What are tendons and ligaments?
Both tendons and ligaments are strong, stretchy tissues that literally hold your body together. The main difference is in what they connect.
Tendons connect muscle tissues to bones, while ligaments connect bones to other bones. There are more ligaments in your joints, but ligaments, as well as tendons, are present throughout the body. The best supplements for healing tendons and ligaments will often help heal both.
Why do ligaments and tendons get hurt so easily?
Injuries involving ligaments and tendons are common because as we age, our connective tissues become less flexible.
As we get older, our bodies produce less and less collagen – the protein needed by cells throughout the body to strengthen and repair tissue. Collagen is one of the best supplements for healing tendons and ligaments for this very reason, and the best collagen for joints may help you recover from tendon or ligament injuries!
Why do tendons and ligaments take so long to heal?
One of the most common ligament injuries is a sprained ankle. And anyone who has sprained their ankle has also found themselves wondering how to heal a sprained ankle fast. The problem is, speeding up the healing of ligaments or tendons is tricky.
This is because tendons and ligaments don’t have as much blood flowing through them as muscles do. Since blood is what carries the cells needed to repair the damaged tissue, your body has to work extra hard to heal ligaments and tendons.
This is why choosing the best supplements for healing tendons and ligaments is difficult, as well. You don’t only need to give your body the materials it needs to heal, you also need to be able to absorb them easily.
Low quality supplements will be more difficult for your body to absorb and use. And adding more work for your body is the last thing you need when hoping to heal ligaments and tendons.
So what are the best supplements for healing tendons and ligaments? Let’s take a look.
The 12 best supplements for healing tendons and ligaments
The best supplements for healing tendons and ligaments help you focus on giving your body the nutrition it needs for natural repair. Here are our top recommendations when healing from a connective tissue injury:
Collagen for ligaments is the number one supplement to take if you’re recovering from a ligament or tendon injury. Without collagen, your body literally couldn’t repair an injured ligament or tendon – it’s the protein your body uses to create new tissue fibers!
Collagen supplements ensure that your body can easily create the collagen necessary to repair your tissue which makes them one of the most effective home remedies for knee pain or ankle pain caused by torn tendons or ligaments.
Glucosamine is a natural compound found in cartilage. Taking a glucosamine supplement may accelerate repair processes in tendons when the body’s natural production of collagen is degrading.
Glucosamine helps the body synthesize collagen. “Collagen synthesis” is when your body uses nutrients from food or supplements to form the specific kind of collagen found in your own cells.
The best supplements for healing tendons and ligaments will encourage collagen synthesis by either providing the materials your body needs to make collagen, supporting the process your body uses to form collagen, or both.
Bromelain is an enzyme common in pineapple. If you’ve ever heard pineapple juice suggested as a home remedy after an injury, the person recommending it was on to something.
Bromelain is one of the best supplements for healing tendons and ligaments because of its impact on tenocytes. Tenocytes are the specific cells your tendons and ligaments are largely made of.
Bromelain can boost the number of tenocytes present in tissue after an injury, helping your body replace the damaged cells with new ones.
To understand what glycine is, you first have to know what amino acids are. Amino acids are molecules that your body needs to form proteins. There are two kinds of amino acids: essential and non-essential. In this case, “non-essential” doesn’t mean your body doesn’t need them!
Your body needs both essential and non-essential amino acids to form protein. The difference is that while your body usually has no problem making non-essential acids, you have to get essential amino acids through food.
Glycine is a non-essential amino acid, so why is it one of the best supplements for healing tendons and ligaments? Glycine is the most essential amino acid for collagen synthesis, and it has a positive impact on tenocytes and inflammation, making it ideal for supporting collagen synthesis after injury.
Omega-3s are essential fatty acids. Fatty acids form the basis of fats in the body, unlike amino acids, which form proteins. Like essential amino acids, though, essential fatty acids can’t be made by the body and have to be part of your diet.
Omega-3s are one of the best supplements for healing tendons and ligaments, but they’re also one of the easiest nutrients on this list to add through your diet. Foods like eggs, salmon, tuna, walnuts, and spinach are all high in omega-3s.
When you’re recovering from a tendon or ligament injury, omega-3s help out in two powerful ways. First, they help with collagen synthesis by being part of the process your body uses to turn amino acids into proteins like collagen. Second, omega-3s have a direct positive effect on the healing of ligament cells.
Unlike all the other tendon and ligament supplements on this list, there’s next to no research on magnesium supplements impacting tendons or ligaments, specifically. But there are a few reasons it deserves a place on the list of best supplements for healing tendons and ligaments.
First, its positive effects on healing in general are well-documented. When it comes to wound healing, magnesium can significantly decrease the size and severity of wounds over a period of several weeks of supplementation.
Researchers are also exploring the usage of magnesium screws to aid ligament healing, in cases where surgery may be needed.
Magnesium may help aid healing in tendons and ligaments by reducing inflammation around the site of the injury and supporting synthesis for different proteins, including collagen.
Calcium is a mineral naturally occurring in the earth. Most people know that a healthy calcium intake forms strong bones. Fewer people know that calcium is also one of the best supplements for healing tendons and ligaments.
Calcium is especially helpful in healing tendons since tendons connect directly to bone, and calcium more regularly travels through them.
In rotator cuff tendon injuries, calcium has a positive effect on collagen and has a strong effect on tendon-to-bone healing. Calcium can specifically help reduce stiffness during healing and ensure that tendons have the highest possible strength after healing.
8. Vitamin D
Vitamin D is most commonly known as something you get from sunlight, and that’s true! But how does this impact tendons and ligaments?
On its own, vitamin D doesn’t have any direct link to tendons or ligaments after injury. However, vitamin D is needed to absorb calcium. If you’re supplementing with calcium but don’t get enough vitamin D, the calcium won’t be able to support your healing.
Vitamin D has to be paired with calcium to find its way onto a list of the best supplements for healing tendons and ligaments, but what about after your injury heals? Vitamin D deficiency is linked to more frequent ligament tears, making it perfect to continue as part of your normal supplement routine.
More research is needed on the specific link between zinc and ligaments or tendons, but early research is promising. Similarly to calcium, zinc may be particularly helpful for tendon injuries, because it stimulates collagen synthesis in bones.
At this point, you may be wondering where collagen is found. Tendons, ligaments, and now bones? Yes! Collagen is actually found throughout your entire body, from your bones, tendons, and ligaments to your skin, hair, and nails.
Collagen is an integral part of tendons and ligaments, and zinc helps your body form more collagen to support their strength and healing. This means zinc isn’t just one of the best supplements for healing tendons and ligaments, but a key part of overall health!
10. Vitamin A
Vitamin A is a nutrient that plays a key role in cell division. Cell division is an important part of healing damaged tendons and ligaments, since cell division is how your body creates and repairs any kind of tissue.
11. Vitamin C
Vitamin C is one of the best supplements for healing tendons and ligaments because it, too, increases collagen synthesis – on its own or alongside other supplements. This is partly because it increases the circulation of amino acids needed to make collagen throughout the body.
Vitamin C’s impact on collagen synthesis is so pronounced, vitamin C tendon and ligament supplements decreased pain in patients with tendon injuries by as much as 83%. The strength of the tendon also increases, all thanks to the number one supplement for healing tendons and ligaments – collagen.
Curcumin is a chemical compound most commonly found in turmeric. Research on curcumin specifically is still emerging, but turmeric’s positive effects on overall health have been well documented for centuries.
Why is curcumin on our list of the best supplements for healing tendons and ligaments? Curcumin can reduce inflammation, especially in joints, which can ease the pain of a ligament or tendon injury. Curcumin also has a positive effect on the regeneration of tendons, specifically.
This is great news for people who regularly suffer from Achilles tendinitis, golfer’s elbow, or tennis elbow. These are some of the most common tendon injuries, and they’re often directly caused by increased inflammation to these tendons.
Choosing the right tendon and ligament supplements
Finding the right supplements can be difficult, and consulting with your healthcare team is important, especially if you’re already taking medications. Once you’re cleared to add supplements to your routine, make sure to look for supplements that are easily digestible.
This can mean opting to get nutrients directly from food instead of supplements, or looking for supplements that are optimized to be absorbed by the body.
ProT Gold’s hydrolyzed collagen is designed to be fully digested in less than 15 minutes, and contains all the materials your body needs to rebuild healthy tendons and ligaments.