The connective tissue has an important function in the body as a support for the internal organs. Often, however, little attention is paid to it if there are no cosmetic signs of connective tissue weakness. These include cellulite, stretch marks and varicose veins.
However, a weakening of the connective tissue can also have other medically serious consequences. So that these can be prevented, we have put together an overview here to help you understand what exactly weak connective tissue is, what causes it can have and what you can do to counteract it.
the essentials in brief
- The connective tissue is essential in the body as a support for the internal organs. A distinction is made between different types, depending on the specific function of the tissue.
- Connective tissue can become weakened due to various hormonal or weight changes, as well as certain diseases and medications. To avoid deeper problems, you should make sure that you strengthen it again.
- There are various ways to strengthen your connective tissue, which you should combine for the best success. In addition to the right skin care and diet, this also includes exercise and various vitamin preparations and homeopathic options.
Definition: what is connective tissue?
Connective tissue is a generic term for types of tissues in the body that connect, separate, or support other types of tissue. The connective tissue also serves as a water reservoir and transports important nutrients to the organs. The tissue also serves as a protective barrier against penetrating foreign bodies. There are different types of connective tissue (1).
- Tight connective tissue : The tight connective tissue contains a high proportion of collagen fibers and is therefore particularly resistant. Depending on the direction of these fibers, there is a further difference between tight mesh-like connective tissue, in which the fiber bundles cross and can thus be pulled in different directions, and tight parallel-fibered connective tissue, which runs in one direction and can be pulled. The mesh-like tissue is found, for example, in the sclera of the eye and skin, while the parallel-fibrous forms tendons and ligaments.
- Lax Connective Tissue : Lax connective tissue fills the space between various organs and forms their framework. It also serves as a water reservoir and numerous free cells cavort there. Also the adipose tissue, which stores large amounts of fat and thus energy inside the cell.
- Specialized Connective Tissues : Specialized connective tissues include various other connective tissue types such as blood, cartilage, and bone tissue.
Together, the different types of connective tissue ensure that your body stays in the ideal shape so that your internal organs and musculoskeletal system function ideally.
Background: What you should know about strengthening connective tissue
We have collected the most frequently asked questions about strengthening connective tissue for you here and answered them below.
Before you move on to treatment options, you should read these questions carefully. Through the answers you will acquire background knowledge that will help you to find the right strategy against weak connective tissue.
Why does connective tissue become weak?
Connective tissue can become weak for a variety of reasons.
- Hormonal fluctuations : Especially in women, hormonal fluctuations have a major impact on the strength of the connective tissue (2). Because the female sex hormone is central to strong connective tissue, the tissues become less firm during menopause and skin can become wavy (3,4). The situation is similar with hormone changes during pregnancy and puberty. In the case of teenagers in particular, there is also rapid growth and possible weight gain as factors that can lead to weakening of the connective tissue.
- Diseases : Certain diseases, such as Marfan syndrome, can also lead to an altered structure of the connective tissue(5).
- Diet : Diet also plays an important role in connective tissue strength. If the body is acidic, these acids can be stored in the connective tissue, weakening it.
- Medications : Finally, certain medications such as cortisone can weaken the connective tissue over time (6).
A weakened connective tissue can be recognized, among other things, by the fact that visible dents form in the skin, especially on the buttocks and thighs. Stretch marks, which can also appear on the upper body in addition to the regions already mentioned, can also be a sign of weak connective tissue.
Weak connective tissue should be taken seriously as it is not only a cosmetic but also a medical problem.
In the very advanced stage, the support function of the connective tissue can be so limited that the internal organs can no longer be properly supported. This is then determined by a doctor, while the slight external signs of cellulite, stretch marks and varicose veins can also be recognized by laypeople as signs of weak connective tissue.
Are there differences in connective tissue between men and women?
Differences in connective tissue between men and women can be seen at first glance (7).
|Fibers form a dense network, which makes storage difficult||Fibers form stretchable spaces for storage of water and fat|
|mesh-like structure||Parallel fiber structure|
|Firmer, thicker skin||80 to 90% have cellulite|
These differences can be explained primarily by the fact that women are dependent on storing water and fat during pregnancy and thus improve their chances of survival.
What should I consider when strengthening connective tissue?
Depending on the reason and at what time you are showing signs of weak connective tissue, there are a few things to consider.
During pregnancy, the connective tissue is particularly exposed to stress as the abdomen and body mass increase rapidly (8). The expectant mother should be careful not to overwhelm herself and her child and choose gentle methods to combat stretch marks and other manifestations of weak connective tissue.
The connective tissue is particularly stressed during pregnancy (Image source: Unsplash / freestocks)
After an operation
A surgical procedure means a lot of stress for the connective tissue as well as for the rest of the body. During the treatment, you should make sure that you don't put too much strain on the affected area too quickly. Be sure to follow your doctor's instructions so you don't make any cosmetic problems worse.
After weight loss
Anyone who has successfully lost weight often finds afterwards that the skin on the abdomen, legs and other areas has become looser. In order to tighten them again, it makes sense to strengthen the connective tissue. However, for those who have undergone a particularly large physical change, the measures described later may not be sufficient and the tissue may have been stretched too much.
In this case, you should consult a doctor, who can then recommend other options, such as surgical skin tightening.
The previously mentioned hormonal change during menopause also weakens the connective tissue, as the formation of collagen by estrogen decreases. Up to a third of skin collagen is lost, so supplementing with collagen to fill this gap may be an alternative (9,10">.
Strengthen connective tissue: The best tips & tricks for strong connective tissue
In this section we want to give you tips and tricks so that you can strengthen your connective tissue. Since the health of your connective tissue is important not only for cosmetic but also medical reasons, we recommend that you read the next section carefully.
Strengthen connective tissue with the right skin care
In any case, the connective tissue should be supplied with sufficient moisture. You can choose from different creams, lotions and oils in different price ranges. Various manufacturers offer special anti-cellulite creams. However, these should not be seen as a panacea, but as support for other measures.
With a plucking massage, in which the skin in affected areas is gently plucked with index finger and thumb, the lymph flow is stimulated and stored substances are removed. Alternatively, you can also achieve the same effect with a massage brush or regular peeling.
You should massage with circular movements. Algae wraps and lymph drainage also help to rid the connective tissue of excess lymph fluid (11).
With alternating showers you can stimulate your blood circulation and thus strengthen your connective tissue (Image source: Unsplash / Sidekix Media).
With contrast showers, i.e. first a warm and then a cold shower, you can also stimulate the blood circulation in your connective tissue and thus strengthen it. You should switch between the two temperatures 4 to 5 times. As a pleasant side effect, the contrast shower hardens the body and wakes you up.
Strengthen connective tissue with vitamins
Various vitamins are necessary for healthy connective tissue. You can either get these through your diet, as described in more detail in the next section, or you can help with a supplement.
- Vitamin C : Vitamin C helps build collagen fibers and is essential for cell renewal (12). The vitamin is found in citrus fruits, black currants, peppers and various types of cabbage. When dosing, you should make sure that you do not exceed the daily requirement, which is 110 mg for men and 95 mg for women, as an oversupply of vitamin C is unhealthy.
- Vitamin B3 : Niacin, also known as vitamin B3 , helps connective tissue to properly process protein building blocks (13). It is found in whole grains, potatoes, peanuts and coffee. The daily requirement for men is between 14 and 17 mg, a woman gets by with a little less, namely between 11 and 13 mg a day.
- Lysine : The amino acid lycine is also essential for building connective tissue (14). It is found in whole grains and pseudo-cereals, tofu and peas. You should take about 38 mg of lysine per kilo of body weight per day.
Aside from these three essential vitamins and nutrients, however, you should also look out for other healthy ingredients. These will be discussed in more detail in the next section.
Strengthen connective tissue with the right nutrition
When it comes to your diet, you should make sure that you eat less meat. You should also avoid too much sugar and white flour, as they can damage your skin. Alcohol can also damage the connective tissue. Since fish, low-fat dairy products and legumes contain a lot of amino acids , you should eat them more often. You should also include more fruit and vegetables in your diet.
As already mentioned, vitamin C strengthens the tissue, so you should choose those varieties that contain a high dose. In addition to potassium, which stimulates the metabolism, pineapple contains enzymes that stimulate healthy collagen formation and thus support the connective tissue. Vegetable oils and nuts should also be on your menu, along with whole grains (15).
|Good for connective tissue||Bad for the connective tissue|
|fruit and vegetables||Meat|
|whole grain products||Sugar|
|Low fat dairy products||High-fat dairy products|
|vegetable oils||Greasy foods|
Apart from the right food, an adequate water supply is also necessary, since the connective tissue consists of 70% water. Therefore, you should make sure that you drink enough water every day. However, you should avoid juice and soft drinks due to the high sugar content.
Plenty of water also works against weak connective tissue.
Overall, however, as always in nutrition, the most important thing is a balance. If you eat healthily in general, you can also use unhealthier alternatives from time to time.
Strengthen connective tissue through movement
Exercise also strengthens the connective tissue, since sport increases blood circulation and promotes metabolism . By replacing fat with muscle, you can also prevent cellulite , in which fat cells protrude from the connective tissue, creating a rippled surface (16.17">.
Ideally, you should combine fitness training with specific exercises. With the former you can boost your blood circulation, for example jogging, Nordic walking or cycling. Targeted muscle exercises such as yoga or Pilates also help to strengthen the affected regions.
To combat weak connective tissue with exercise, you should, among other things, focus on endurance sports such as jogging (Image source: Unsplash / Chander R).
In recent years, special fascia training, which specifically aims to strengthen the connective tissue, has gained popularity. A special fascia roller is required for this, which is slowly unrolled over the affected area.
Strengthen connective tissue with homeopathy
In homeopathy, Silicea is often changed for elastic and firm connective tissue. You can take the mineral in different dosage forms and in combination with other minerals in the Schuessler Salt No. 11.
The Schuessler salts No. 1 Calcium Fluoratum and No. 4 Potassium Chloratum are also often used for therapy, as the substances are intended to support the strength and stability of the connective tissue. However, the effectiveness of these preparations has not been scientifically proven.
Herbal applications can also contribute to strengthening the connective tissue. For example, you can boil ivy leaves from the pharmacy and apply them to the affected areas as a compress.
Aside from these options, you should also make sure that you avoid nicotine. Smoking reduces blood flow, which can damage the connective tissue fibers.
In this article we have compiled various tips and tricks for strengthening your connective tissue. This type of tissue, which supports your organs and stores nutrients, is essential to your health. Many people experience the cosmetic signs of weak connective tissue, such as cellulite, varicose veins, and stretch marks. To avoid further damage, if you notice these signs, you should make sure to strengthen your connective tissue.
For this you should pay attention to a balanced diet with lots of vitamins. Vitamin C and B3 in particular help to strengthen the health of your connective tissue. You can also do something good for your connective tissue with the right skin care, contrast showers and massages, as they stimulate blood circulation and promote the removal of lymphatic fluid. Regular exercise is just as important. If you like to use homeopathic alternatives, then Schuessler salts, especially numbers 1, 4 and 11, are also suitable for you.
- Lüllmann-Rauch: Histology. 2nd edition Thieme 2006, ISBN: 3-131-29242-3.
- Kjaer M, Hansen M. The mystery of female connective tissue. J Appl Physiol (1985). 2008 Oct;105(4):1026-7. doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.91008.2008. Epub 2008 Aug 7. PMID: 18687974.
- Calleja-Agius J, Brincat M. The effect of menopause on the skin and other connective tissues. Gynecol Endocrinol. 2012;28(4):273-277. doi:10.3109/09513590.2011.613970
- Calleja-Agius J, Brincat M, Borg M. Skin connective tissue and aging. Best Practice Res Clin Obstet Gynaecol. 2013 Oct;27(5):727-40. doi: 10.1016/j.bpobgyn.2013.06.004. Epub 2013 Jul 10. PMID: 23850161.
- Yuan SM, Jing H. Marfan's syndrome: an overview. Sao Paulo Med J. 2010 Dec;128(6):360-6. doi: 10.1590/s1516-31802010000600009. PMID: 21308160.
- Nacht S, Garzón P. Effects of corticosteroids on connective tissue and fibroblasts. Adv Steroid Biochem Pharmacol. 1974;4(0):157-87. doi: 10.1016/b978-0-12-037504-2.50007-9. PMID: 4278078.
- Bredella MA. Sex Differences in Body Composition. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2017;1043:9-27. doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-70178-3_2. PMID: 29224088.
- Danforth DN, Buckingham JC. Connective Tissue Mechanisms And Their Relation To Pregnancy. Obstet Gynecol Surv. 1964 Oct;19:715-32. doi: 10.1097/00006254-196410000-00001. PMID: 14204650.
- Reus TL, Brohem CA, Schuck DC, Lorencini M. Revisiting the effects of menopause on the skin: Functional changes, clinical studies, in vitro models and therapeutic alternatives. Mech Aging Dev. 2020 Jan;185:111193. doi: 10.1016/j.mad.2019.111193. Epub 2019 Dec 4. PMID: 31811831.
- Lephart ED, Naftolin F. Menopause and the Skin: Old Favorites and New Innovations in Cosmeceuticals for Estrogen-Deficient Skin. Dermatol Ther (Heidelb). 2020 Nov 26. doi: 10.1007/s13555-020-00468-7. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 33242128.
- Bayrakci Tunay V, Akbayrak T, Bakar Y, Kayihan H, Ergun N. Effects of mechanical massage, manual lymphatic drainage and connective tissue manipulation techniques on fat mass in women with cellulite. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2010 Feb;24(2):138-42. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-3083.2009.03355.x. Epub 2009 Jul 13. PMID: 19627407.
- Pullar JM, Carr AC, Vissers MCM. The Roles of Vitamin C in Skin Health. nutrients. 2017 Aug 12;9(8):866. doi: 10.3390/nu9080866. PMID: 28805671; PMCID: PMC5579659.
- Wohlrab J, Kreft D. Niacinamide - mechanisms of action and its topical use in dermatology. Skin Pharmacol Physiol. 2014;27(6):311-5. doi: 10.1159/000359974. Epub 2014 Jun 27. PMID: 24993939.
- Perła-Kajan J, Utyro O, Rusek M, Malinowska A, Sitkiewicz E, Jakubowski H. N-Homocysteinylation impairs collagen cross-linking in cystathionine β-synthase-deficient mice: a novel mechanism of connective tissue abnormalities. FASEB J. 2016 Nov;30(11):3810-3821. doi: 10.1096/fj.201600539. Epub 2016 Aug 16. PMID: 27530978.
- Piccardi N, Manissier P. Nutrition and nutritional supplementation: Impact on skin health and beauty. dermatoendocrinol. 2009 Sep;1(5):271-4. doi: 10.4161/derm.1.5.9706. PMID: 20808515; PMCID: PMC2836433.
- Stone MH. Implications for connective tissue and bone alterations resulting from resistance exercise training. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1988 Oct;20(5 Suppl):S162-8. doi: 10.1249/00005768-198810001-00013. PMID: 3057317.
- Kjaer M, Jørgensen NR, Heinemeier K, Magnusson SP. Exercise and Regulation of Bone and Collagen Tissue Biology. Prog Mol Biol Transl Sci. 2015;135:259-91. doi: 10.1016/bs.pmbts.2015.07.008. Epub 2015 Aug 17. PMID: 26477918.