Athletes in sports related to bodybuilding or athletics have a greater impact and stress on their joints. That’s why they often look for medications or supplements that can relieve pain and swelling in their ankles, knees, elbows and wrists.
Athletes have different nutritional requirements from the general population due to sustained strenuous exercise.
Athletes and Osteoarthritis
These athletes are also at risk of developing osteoarthritis, a painful joint disease characterised by the wear and tear of cartilage, which normally acts as a buffer between the bones of the joints to minimise damage caused by friction and mechanical impacts.
Finally, osteoarthritis is characterised by inflammation and loss of mobility
However, not being an athlete or a sportsman does not mean being exempt from suffering from these ailments, so the article will also be aimed at the general public
How to fight joint pain
Within our joint system we will be able to find a whole structural framework that allows us to carry out movement, and also supports the weight of the body and also offers protection for organs. However, the health of the whole associated system and, of course, our active life in sport will depend on the correct maintenance of this apparatus.
The joints are the points of union between the ends of the bones forming the structures that allow the flexibility and mobility of the body. In the joint, each end of the bones is covered by articular cartilage, a hard tissue, but which has a certain elasticity and flexibility
- Fibrous joints, like the skull, have no movement at all.
- The cartilaginous joints, such as those in the pelvis, which have very little movement.
- The synovial joints, which are the most common and have a wide range of movement. Some examples would be the knee, hip, elbow, shoulder or finger joints
Cartilage provides the movement between the bones and acts as a cushion by preventing contact between the bones. This entire structure is enclosed in a pouch called a joint capsule. The joint capsule is reinforced by the ligaments, an anatomical band structure made up of resistant fibres that connect the tissues that bind the bones in the joints.
The ligaments provide stability to the joints. They are responsible for preventing the joints from dislocating when we make a forced movement. The joint is bathed in synovial fluid, a viscous liquid, and is the main medium through which the joint cartilage obtains nutrients, lubricates the joint and cushions impacts on it.
One of the elements that suffer the most wear and tear is the cartilage, which degrades, becoming thinner and thinner and giving rise to an annoying pain by friction of the bones, even producing the inability to completely flex or extend the joint, inflammation and numbness of the joint area.
Once the pain appears is when we really become aware of how important joint health is and what it can do to our quality of life
If we also add the disadvantage that there is a poor blood supply, cartilage repair is not easy. There may be a degenerative type of wear and tear on the cartilage, caused by the passage of time or by the after-effects of fractures.
Joint Health Supplements – What is good for the joints?
If you are suffering from any kind of pain, however slight, it will be limiting you substantially, and what is worse, it may be the start of something more serious… Better to stop and study what happens at this point to prevent rather than cure.
The length of your “run” within a sports programme, whether you’re a weightlifter, long-distance runner, or climber…, will depend largely on the health of your joints
What to do if knee pain appears
What is Glucosamine?
It is one of the best supplements for joints and tendons. It is a natural component that our body produces. It is found around the joints and its function is to provide support to maintain the health of the cartilage. This tissue has the function of protecting the bone in the joints.
Glucosamine is used by the body to repair damaged cartilage tissue, heart valves, mucous membranes and synovial fluid – the gelatinous substance that fills joints. Glucosamine can also stimulate cartilage production, as well as cartilage repair, to help rebuild cartilage.
It is also present in the blood where it is necessary for the production of hyaluronic acid, which is essential for curing skin-related problems
As we age, levels of this compound begin to drop, leading to gradual breakdown and wear of the joint. This fact becomes more consistent when practicing high-impact joint sports.
Although it can be found in our bodies, we can obtain it from other natural sources: it is found in marine creatures such as exoskeletons or shells of crabs, lobsters and other crustaceans that live on the sea floor. Of course, it is also possible to obtain glucosamine from supplements, being one of the most demanded within the category of joint health.
Benefits of Glucosamine
- Glucosamine can help reduce pain in patients suffering from osteoarthritis1.This condition, which causes joint wear and tear, affects the mobility of joints, the symptoms of which are pain, redness and inflammation.
- In this sense, possible benefits refer to reducing swelling and even the production of new cartilage. The effectiveness of glucosamine compared to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as Ibuprofen, can be shown to be superior2.
In the figure we can see two cartilages: a) A normal and healthy cartilage, without any fissures or signs of inflammation; b) Early local injury of the degenerated and fibrotic cartilage, as well as a remodelling of the bone that is observed by osteoarthritis or arthrosis. This can lead to a decrease in bone and cartilage sclerosis
Is Glucosamine safe
Glucosamine supplementation is safe, however there are certain people who should avoid it:
- Pregnant or breastfeeding women
- Allergic to crustaceans
- People with a prescription for taking anticoagulant medication. This is because glucosamine has a blood thinning effect.
Before starting to use it, it is recommended to consult a doctor for any drug interaction.
How to take Glucosamine
Glucosamine is recommended to take 3 daily doses of 300-500mg to complete 900-1500mg. It should be taken with meals. The best form would be that of Sulphate Salts, closely followed by Glucosamine Sulphate.
What is Chondroitin?
Chondroitin sulphate is a sulphated glycosaminoglycan (GAG) which is composed of a long chain of alternating sugars. These sugars are called galactosamine N-acetyl and glucuronic acid. It is an important component of cartilage, helping in its construction and repair.
This substance forms a sponge that acts as a shock absorber for the joints. It is also responsible for maintaining the health of the tendon system and ligaments. Thanks to it, the joints are kept hydrated for the work of cushioning and relieving pain.
It also improves the range of joint movement by providing greater elasticity in the cartilage
Chondroitin is found naturally in the body, but can decrease as people age and become more severe for certain diseases, such as arthritis and osteoarthritis
Benefits of Chondroitin
- Any inflammation, especially in the joints, can be relieved by chondroitin. It has the ability to reduce the chemicals that cause this symptom by suppressing them.
- In the field of sport, the recovery period for certain injuries can be shortened, especially for muscular and tendon injuries, as well as reducing swelling and pain.
- As was discussed for glucosamine, chondroitin could also play an interesting role in mitigating the symptoms of osteoarthritis3.
Is chondroitin safe?
Chondroitin is safe, but in some people, it should be avoided, such as pregnant or breastfeeding women, patients taking anticoagulant drugs are discouraged because chondroitin thins the blood. Also, if you are allergic to crustaceans. On the other hand, in order to avoid any risk, always consult your doctor before starting to take them.
How to take chondroitin?
Chondroitin is recommended to be taken in one, two or three daily doses to reach 1000-1200mg.It should be taken with meals. It is very common to take it in combination with Glucosamine.
What is MSM?
MSM (methyl sulfonyl methane) is a biologically active source of sulfate, with important properties for strengthen and maintain joint tissue It is also essential for the production of collagen (a fundamental component of cartilage) and forms part of the support for skin, hair and nails, and the methyl groups, which are responsible for carrying out numerous biochemical processes within the body related to energy production. It also has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects.
MSM is a natural nutrient that can be found in small amounts in food, much less than in the area of supplementation. It can be taken alone or in combination with other products, such as glucosamine or chondroitin.
Sulfur is critical for optimal cartilage health
Sulphur helps maintain the structure of the connective tissue by forming cross-links through disulphide bonds, enhancing the elements that make up the joint
Benefits of MSM
- Improves skin health and complexion: due to the production of collagen, flaccidity and wrinkles are reduced, as well as dryness, and cracked skin is restored as a result of collagen loss. Together with vitamin C, they work in synergy to build new tissues.
- Improves joint flexibility: this leads to an increase in overall flexibility by restoring tissue elasticity
- Anti-inflammatory: this is due to its ability to effectively remove metabolic residues from the interior of cells and tissues, such as lactic acid and other by-products, which leads to a drastic reduction in the time they remain stored with the risk this entails. When these substances are excreted, we can achieve a reduction in weight by evacuating all that content.
- Sports injuries: like “tennis player’s” or “golfer’s” elbow involve inflammation and micro-trauma of the soft tissue lining the joints. If left untreated, this condition can become chronic, resulting in arthritic symptoms: pain and stiffness in the affected region. Sulphur can prevent this by intervening just before these ailments develop.
- Reducing knee pain caused by osteoarthritis4.
Is MSM safe?
It is safe, there are no adverse records, just some cases of stomach upset. Not recommended for use by pregnant or nursing women. No interaction with medicines has been seen either
How to take MSM
MSM is recommended to be taken in daily doses up to 1500-3000mg. It can be taken alone or with meals. It is very common to take it in combination with Glucosamine.
What is Hyaluronic Acid?
Hyaluronic acid is a type of substance called glycosaminoglycan (polysaccharides which are an important component of connective tissue) and is found naturally in the body, the highest concentrations being located in the eyes and joints.
Hyaluronic acid works by acting as a buffer and lubricant in the joints and other tissues. In addition, it may affect the way the body responds to an injury, shortening recovery times.
Normal, comfortable joint movement depends on the presence of a substance, known as synovial fluid, located in the joint cavities. Hyaluronic acid is the main natural polymer compound present in the synovial fluid of the joints. It is synthesised by a type of cell (chondrocytes) that covers the fluid envelope surrounding the joints, so that the hyaluronic acid creates a viscous medium, providing cushioning for the cartilage, as well as reducing friction from certain physical stresses.
When osteoarthritis occurs, the characteristics of this component of the synovial fluid tend to generate less viscosity and loss of elasticity, while its concentration decreases. At this point, considering the corresponding contribution of hyaluronic acid can be essential for maintaining the health of the joint.
The joints maintain a mechanism similar to that of gears: they will function optimally and smoothly when lubricated.
In a healthy joint, the lubricant is the synovial fluid mentioned above, which allows the bones to slide between them and also absorbs any “shocks”.
Benefits of Hyaluronic Acid
We can highlight that the use of hyaluronic acid can provide the following benefits:
- Oral Hyaluronic Acid supplementation can reduce joint pain in the knee caused by osteoarthritis5.
- It intervenes in the synthesis of collagen, as well as in the retention of moisture in the skin, contributing to the fight against skin ageing6.Higher levels of collagen and hyaluronic acid are associated with skin that will be more flexible and resistant to wrinkles, giving it a rejuvenated appearance.
Is Hyaluronic Acid safe?
It is a safe substance in most cases, where we will have to pay special attention to pregnant or nursing women. Moreover, no interaction with medicines has been registered.
How to take Hyaluronic Acid?
Hyaluronic Acid is recommended as a daily dose between 150-300mg. It can be taken alone or with meals. It is very common to take it in combination with other products for joint health.
What is Collagen
Collagen is the component with the greatest presence in the connective tissue in our body, constituting approximately a quarter of the muscle mass. It is a strong, fibrous protein, located in the skin, muscles, tendons, cartilage, skin, nails, hair. It promotes joint health and improves bone strength.
It can even benefit people who already suffer from degenerative arthritis joint disease by reducing inflammation, decreasing pain, (thus reducing pain medication) and improving joint function, flexibility and mobility.
Collagen and Osteoarthritis
Administration of collagen7, especially before the onset of any of the following pathologies, may reduce symptoms and bring about improvements. The bones that make up the skeleton are composed of cells embedded in hard intercellular material made up of mineralised substances and collagen fibres.
Like other tissues in the body, bones are in a continuous state of regeneration, known as bone remodelling. The age at which the loss of bone material begins is not entirely clear, but can be estimated at around 30.
Around 15% of healthy adult bones are replaced or remodelled each year. Bone resorption is the process by which osteoclasts destroy bone and release minerals, resulting in a transfer of calcium into the blood. Irregular rates of bone resorption and formation – leading to more bone loss than formation – are a hallmark of osteopenia.People suffering from this pathology will be at greater risk of suffering fractures because they have less bone mass.
Cartilage consists of a single type of cell, chondrocytes embedded in the extracellular matrix composed of two main components: Type II collagen which provides traction force, and aggregates which surround the cartilage and support compression forces. The remodelling process ensures the biochemical maintenance of the characteristics of the cartilage.
Healthy joint VS Joints affected by osteoarthritis
However, due to osteoarthritis, this regulation can be compromised, in addition to giving rise to the expression of pro-inflammatory molecules that cause the synthesis of enzymes that degrade the extracellular matrix – collagen and aggregates will be affected – resulting in a loss of cartilage and its functionality.
Benefits of Collagen
- Collagen can be effective for bone metabolism, especially in conditions of calcium deficiency due to osteopenia. It also helps to generate greater bone density. It has also been shown that collagen stimulates the activity of osteoblasts, the cells responsible for bone formation, rather than osteoclasts, which are related to bone remodelling (stimulating bone growth).
- The benefits of collagen in supporting bone health also regulate increased mineral density, increased bone size, and reduced bone fragility.
- Supplementation with Type II collagen can be very effective in restoring joint elasticity and reducing arthritis pain. Anyone suffering from chronic joint pain can benefit from adding collagen to their diet. It not only helps the bones, but also reduces inflammation and improves skin elasticity.
Is Collagen Safe
There have been no recorded cases of interactions with medicines, and possible adverse effects occur if the person is allergic to the source used, usually cattle, pigs, fish, crustaceans, or chicken. In other cases, there are supplements obtained from vegetable sources.
How to take Collagen?
We can find basically two types of collagen supplements, with different doses:
- Hydrolysed collagen, whose recommended daily dose would be 10g, which can be taken with food.
- Indentured Collagen,whose dose would be 40mg once a day, no matter what time of day, although it could be taken before breakfast, on an empty stomach.
- Guide of Supplements for Runners
- All about Hyaluronic acid
- The importance of Collagen
- Supplements to Increase Bone Mineral density