Lube Your Joints With Supplements

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– by Nicola Zaina –

Running keeps us fit and healthy and nothing beats the high we get when we hit the road. We eagerly anticipate heading out, whether it’s solo or with friends. And when it comes to races, we pre-enter and lay out our gear the night before.

We take every step to ensure things run smoothly and we shouldn”t forget to look after our joints too – before problems arise. A runner’s joints take a pounding and preventing damage is essential if we’d like to be lifelong runners.

Osteoarthritis affects the majority of the population by the age of 60 and is especially common in athletes. It is a degenerative condition where cartilage is damaged by wear and tear resulting in pain and reduced mobility.

Like many conditions, prevention is better than cure and there are many supplements available that can help support the body and delay the onset of arthritis or even prevent it from occurring.

But before you rush out and buy a product, remember that supplements are only one part of the puzzle. Sensible training, eating healthfully and resting when needed is essential.

These are some of the key ingredients to look for in a joint support supplement:

Glucosamine

One of the most popular supplements, glucosamine has been proven in many clinical studies to stop cartilage deterioration. It acts by hydrating cartilage so it has a better shock-absorbing capacity. There are two commonly used forms of glucosamine – sulphate from shellfish, and hydrochloride. More research has been done on the sulphate form, but the hydrochloride form seems to be equally effective. For people who suffer from shellfish allergies or are vegetarian the hydrochloride form is the best option.

Chondroitin

Chondroitin works in a similar way to glucosamine and assists with hydration, elasticity and flexibility of cartilage. A study published in The Archives of Internal Medicine indicated that both glucosamine and chondroitin were effective and safe.

Collagen

Another effective joint nutrient is collagen. This has been shown to not only reduce pain associated with arthritis, but also improve mobility and reduce the need for painkillers. It works well because it helps to restore cartilage. Collagen may also help shorten the recovery time from sports-related injuries.

Hyaluronic Acid

Hyaluronic acid is the main component of the fluid within the joint, so by taking it in a supplement you can help to keep the joints lubricated and less prone to injury.

MSM

One of the most popular joint supplements is MSM (methylsulfonylmethane), which helps maintain flexibility of tendons and ligaments and consequently can prevent damage. Many people also report that MSM eases any joint pain. Other natural options for pain relief are turmeric, boswellia and devil’s claw which are available in supplement form.

Prevention

Many athletes tend to only take a supplement for joints when they start to experience pain associated with osteoarthritis. However, by supplementing with supportive nutrients the body is capable of keeping joint problems at bay. So those prone to arthritis, such as runners, will certainly benefit by taking supplements at a low dose as a preventative measure before symptoms appear. If you already suffer from arthritis you may need to take a joint supplement for the rest of your life.

It is important to remember that cartilage does not have a blood supply, so nutrients reach the joints slowly and one must be prepared for joint supplements to take a few weeks to work.

What supplements should I buy?

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Online Editor for Runner's World magazine

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