How Collagen Is Vital To Your Recovery Game

How Collagen Is Vital To Your Recovery Game


A TRX X Vital Proteins Collab

As Senior Copywriter for TRX, Jackie Judge spends her day stringing together clever bits of copy in the form of brand stories, emails, video scripts, and so much more. But today, Jackie's back to update us on her New Year's fitness goals, and how Vital Proteins Collagen Powder has amped up her recovery over the last few months.

I’m an incredibly active person. 

I was an avid runner for years, running marathons, countless 10ks and 5ks, and even a few Spartan races. I’ve cycled for years—mountain biking is my jam and I even took turns riding laps in an 8-hour mountain bike relay race at Wente. I love bootcamps and HIIT. I teach high-intensity pilates at BodyRok Studio. Notice a trend? Basically, fitness is a huge part of my life, and it’s what makes something that all fitness enthusiasts experience at one point or another that much harder—injuries. 

In 2019 I had a pretty intense bike crash that left me with a torn hip labrum, torn rotator cuff (and likely shoulder labrum), and some nerve damage that lasted a solid year. I managed to avoid surgery with a dedicated physical therapy program, but there’s a lot of maintenance required to keep me strong, mobile, and able to do the things I love. And a huge part of that maintenance is supplementing with that super buzzy kool-aid everyone is drinking—collagen.  

COLLAGEN = TENDON AND LIGAMENT LOVE

These days, people understand how crucial rest days are to actually letting muscles rebuild and repair. Athletes in particular know how vital protein is to building healthy muscle, but health goes beyond our muscles—all those HIIT classes, plyo sessions, and simply moving our bodies around takes a toll on our tendons, ligaments, and joints (I should know). That’s where collagen comes in. 

As the most abundant protein in our bodies, collagen accounts for approximately one-third of our protein mass. It’s mostly found in connective tissues like skin, joints, bones, and teeth, and it provides structure, strength, and stability to your body. Because they lack as much circulation as muscle, they also take a lot longer to heal—ligament injuries are notorious for taking 1+ years to heal, which is why it’s so important to incorporate adequate rest AND supplement. It’s been shown that eating collagen 30 to 60 minutes before short workouts may help improve joint pain, mobility, and cartilage growth. Considering I have some actual torn cartilage in my hip and shoulder, I knew collagen would be an easy way to boost my recovery plan beyond simply rest, good nutrition, and strengthening work.  

There are plenty of collagen options out there, but Vital Proteins went the extra step and created their Vital Performance Recover Blend that combines collagen peptides with Branched-Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) and all 9 essential amino acids—it’s everything every athlete needs to promote tendon, ligament, joint, and muscle health, as well as sustained energy. I got in the habit of adding my Passion Fruit version to some orange juice in the evening after my workouts. The tropical and citrus blend was incredibly invigorating after a hard training session, and was mentally invigorating in the sense that I felt I was doing something good for my long-term wellbeing. 

A couple things I noticed:

Less stiffness. My hip muscles tend to be pretty stiff, and while I can’t claim full credit to collagen, I did notice less painful joints after consistent use, particularly when waking up in the morning the day after a workout. 

Less soreness. I’m admittedly terrible at staying well hydrated. This flavor alone made me drink more, which is useful, itself, for mitigating muscle soreness. But, I’ll chalk it up to the hefty dose of BCAAs and glutamine—I’ve never supplemented these before and to notice a change in soreness and less DOMS after heavy lifting, it’s easy to make a correlation. 

Collagen and protein isn’t everything, however—sleep forms the tip of the trifecta when it comes to giving your body time to heal. 

TURNS OUT, SLEEP IS VITAL FOR RECOVERY

The majority of muscle repair and growth happens during sleep when hormones are released. Many professional athletes often required 9-10 hours of sleep due to the intense nature of their training, which requires even more rest to reduce muscle inflammation and promote regeneration (so this means my 10-hours-a-night minimum is justified, right?). 

But, what if you have difficulty sleeping? Vital Performance Sleep blend cleverly includes GABA, a naturally occurring neurotransmitter that facilitates sleep, much like melatonin. It also reduces mental and physical stress, creates a sense of calmness, and plays an important role in regulating muscle tone, making it a veritable powerhouse in your recovery game. For 30 days, I religiously drank the Apple Cinnamon flavor in the evening before bed.

What I noticed: 

Boom. Sleep. As a high-energy person (and over-caffeinated person), I sometimes sway toward insomnia. My mind races at night, I think of all my to-do lists, and I generally just have a hard time falling asleep. After a few nights of religiously taking Vital Performance Sleep around 9:30pm, I was nodding off after only a single episode of Bridgerton. 

Better moods. I’ve been using Vital Performance for about 30 days so far—whether it’s the increase in quality sleep or the extra addition of L-tryptophan and B vitamins, something has been stabilizing my moods. Meaning, rather than experience a cranky crash half-way through the day thanks to too much caffeine, I’ve noticed a more even-keeled energy throughout the day. 

Supplements, obviously, aren’t a cure for any injury or training plan. It’s best to think of them as exactly what they are—something that supplements or enhances what you’re currently doing. Of course, considering how we’re living in high-stress times and many of us don’t get enough protein in our day-to-day, Vital Performance Recovery and Sleep blends are a quick, easy, and effective no-brainer to add to your post-workout hydration routine. 

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