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What To Eat To Avoid
Achilles Tendon Stiffness & Injury

Authors: Barbara Depta

In this article:

  • Nutrition Essentials for Building Tendon Strength and Preventing Tendon Injuries
  • Collagen Peptide and Other Supplements to Improve Achilles Tendon Strength
  • How to Increase Blood Flow and Oxygenation with Nutrition for Tendon Health
  • 6 Best Foods For Achilles Tendon Stiffness
  • What Not To Eat For Tendon Health

Any prudent coach or athlete knows that preventing injury is the key to consistent progression. An Achilles tendon rupture can ruin an athlete’s season — or career – and minor Achilles sprains and strains need to be addressed immediately to prevent further tissue damage.

The right loading patterns and proper hands-on therapies go far in recovering Achilles tendon strength. But any training has to go part-and-parcel with the right nutrition to build more resilient tissues.

This article gives the basics of nutrition for tendon health, the nutrients you need, and where to find them, as well as a few of the more advanced nutrition tips to prevent Achilles tendon stiffness and injuries.

Nutrition Essentials for Building Achilles Tendon Strength and Preventing Injuries

Essential Nutrients For Tendon Health: Collagen Tissue Building Blocks, Supportive Nutrients, and Hydration

In order to build strong collagen tissues, you need the protein and mineral building blocks and the vitamins and additional nutrients that support the tissue-building process.

Tendon tissue is made up first of water and then collagen protein, so supplementing with collagen peptides would be a logical option. In fact, one study looking at the effect of collagen supplements on Achilles tendon health showed that a collagen supplement combined with exercise helped runners bounce back faster after chronic Achilles issues.

Other nutrients that serve as the “brick and mortar” of your tendons are sulfur and proteoglycans (the lubricating substance of your connective tissues), magnesium, calcium, selenium, and essential polyunsaturated fatty acids.

Additional nutrients that help build strong tendons include vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin B6, iron, manganese, copper, zinc, polyunsaturated fatty acids like omega-3s, and blood flow-enhancer nitric oxide. Each of these plays a unique role in building strong and resilient collagen and, therefore, resilient tendons.

The last nutrient missing from this list, and the one that should not go missing from your mind, is the one and only water. Tendon tissue is actually 70% water by weight, so it makes sense that dehydration is one of the most critical factors related to Achilles tendon rupture. Simply put, dehydration makes your body more brittle and prone to injury.

Read more about how to make sure your water is actually absorbed by your tendon and connective tissue in this article: Hydration and Connective Tissue -Why Water Isn’t Enough For Optimal Hydration

Here, we wrote another article on Why Electrolytes Alone Are Not Good Enough To Hydrate Your Tissues.

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3 Science-based & esential steps to hydrate your fascial system 

  • Drinking water & taking electrolytes is not enough to hydrate your body.
  • Say goodbye to joint stiffness & soft tissue injuries.
  • Embrace the same steps the top 1% of pro athletes apply to rehydrate every cell in the body.

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Blood Flow, Oxygenation, And Nitric Oxide

About 2 out of 3 tendon ruptures happen near the heel, where the tendon has the lowest access to blood veins and the poorest oxygenation. This means injuries of the Achilles Tendon can be slow to heal since nutrient delivery and waste removal are both constrained.

It also means that one of the most important things you can do is to support your blood flow. Nutritionally, what is the most important nutrient for blood flow and vasodilation?

Nitric Oxide.

You may have heard of beetroot and L-arginine as good ways to boost nitric oxide, but these pale in comparison to other nitric oxide red foods like red spinach and Aronia berry.

And you know what tops them all in nitric oxide-boosting power?

Red spinach and Aronia top the beets and L-arginine combination in nitric oxide-boosting power.Red Spinach extract alone has been shown to have powerful effects on endurance exercise through its effect on raising nitric oxide. Raising nitric oxide becomes even more important as you age since your levels naturally decline over time, so consider Resync plant-based nitric oxide supplement to fill in the gap. The oxygenation you get with this one ingredient cannot be beat!

6 Best Foods For Achilles Tendon Stiffness

The best foods to eat for Achilles tendon health pack in the necessary nutrients for your best bet against Achilles tendon problems:

Green and red leafy vegetables like red spinach, green spinach, chard, arugula, kale, and many other leafy veggies deliver the vitamins A, C, and K, minerals like magnesium, calcium, iron, the electrolyte potassium, and a range of B-vitamins. It’s hard to say which one is the most important, given how critical each is in the tendon-building process. Leafy reds are your one-stop-shop for Achilles tendon health for sure, and if you do not consume them in your diet, you may want to try Resync.

Liver. Few people want to hear that liver tops the list of the best foods for tendon health, but it’s hard to argue against the truth. No other food matches the liver’s vitamin A; few others match the B vitamins and all the major minerals found in the liver. You would be hard-pressed to find food better at filling in nutrient gaps than liver, but its acrid taste leads many people to take it in supplement form.

Tinned oysters or sardines are another infamous superfood. They provide calcium, collagen, essential polyunsaturated fatty acids like anti-inflammatory omega-3s, and some other important nutrients like copper, manganese, and magnesium. For a fresher option, consider wild salmon.


Pumpkin seeds pack in the minerals and B vitamins like few other foods out there. Other particularly healthy seeds are sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, hemp hearts, and flax seeds, each with their individual strengths. One of our favorite ways to support tendon health is by mixing Greek yogurt with a scoop of resync with some seeds - a delicious, healthy snack.

Soybeans, in the form of tofu, tempeh, edamame, or whole soybeans, are a balanced source of protein and fiber. Soy is a star of this list because unprocessed soy delivers unique isoflavone antioxidants called Genistein and Daidzein that may promote connective tissue remodeling, among their numerous other benefits to heart health and longevity. This may be particularly relevant for women with low estrogen levels. If you don’t like soy, other beans like chickpeas and kidney beans don’t have the same isoflavones but are still healthy additions to a diet for strong tendons.

Almonds provide Vitamin E, magnesium, and B vitamins in a convenient fiber- and protein-rich option. Cashews, being high in Vitamin B6, and walnuts, being high in omega-3s, provide their own benefits, so don’t feel like you have to choose just one!

These are simply some of the foods most dense in the nutrients your connective tissues need. Nutriceuticals like bromelain, papaya extract, proteoglycans like MSM and chondroitin sulfate, turmeric/curcumin, and other anti-inflammatory supplements may also have a role in optimizing tendon health.

And don’t forget that what you don’t eat is just as important!

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What Not To Eat For Tendon Health

The first thing you can do to prevent brittle tendons with nutrition is to ditch the “Standard American Diet,” which is rich in sugar, refined carbs, and processed oils. What we eat in America — specifically the refined carbohydrates and charred and fried foods — is a recipe for weak and brittle tendons.

To zoom in to the tissue level, these unhealthy foods create advanced glycation end products (“AGEs”), which are molecules that permanently bind to collagen tissues. The permanent bond impairs the tendon’s basic function, making tendons and other connective tissue weaker and more brittle.

Some tendon tissues only turnover once in a lifetime, so it’s imperative to prevent these kinds of issues far before they become a serious issue like a tendon rupture!

Stop Doing These To Improve Connective Tissue Health

  • Too much sugar and refined carbohydrates
  • Fried foods and charred foods
  • Too much whey protein and animal products
  • Chronic use of NSAIDs
  • Excessive alcohol or chronic tobacco use
  • Physical inactivity
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It only makes sense that what you eat and what you don’t eat are such important factors in your tendon health. From limiting the sugar to getting more of your leafy reds and greens, you can see that a diet for tendon strength is mostly a colorful, healthy, nutrient-dense diet. Once you've covered your nutritional bases, take your game to the next level by optimizing the nutrients your tendons need to recover and build back stronger every day. At Resync, we care about your body.

The Resync course on nutrition for connective tissue health at every layer provides a deep dive into this topic.

Take a look here: Continued Education Nutrition & Connective Tissue Courses

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WITH RESYNC Nutrition & Connective Tissue Courses

The Resync team has curated a 6-part course that dives deep into every layer of the body.

These courses provide evidence-based nutrition recommendations to optimize performance, accelerate recovery, promote healing from an injury, and manage symptoms of connective tissue conditions that are responsive to nutrition.

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Resync is backed by research. That’s why we break down complex science into practical takeaways you can use today. When you have the right information, you are empowered to make the right decision for you.

If there’s something you want to know more about, let us know by leaving a comment, contacting us or getting in touch on Facebook & Instagram!

Helping you lead a healthier life,
-The Resync Team



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Written by: 

Barbara Depta & Detrick Snyder, MPH, RD

Published on 3/07/2024

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