What is the function of the joints? What happens to your bones if your cartilage is heavily worn out? What can you do to avoid a problem like this? A healthy diet is the standard for all of this, but what if it is still not enough? Is there any other option? These are a few questions that worry active athletes.
What is the function of the joints?
In general, joints promote the stability of the connective tissue in the body and allow a certain amount of mobility between them. Every joint has cartilage, an elastic and flexible tissue, capable of stopping the bones from touching each other, avoiding their abrasion.
What happens to your bones if your cartilage is heavily worn out?
You’re probably at risk of suffering from injuries. In fact, athletes’ cartilages are more likely to be worn out due to the physical effort. Most bodybuilding athletes and athletes that engage themselves in other sports focus only on the products that aim for the increase of muscle mass, the reduction of body fat, the improvement of recovery or the increase of energy levels. However, only a few of them take into consideration the supplements that may help improve their overall health, quality or length of life.
Among the most important ones are the joints’ formulas, designed to help promote mobility, to lubricate your joints, to prevent and relieve injuries and pain of those who frequently engage themselves in really intense sports’ activities, whether it’s weightlifting, cardio or other sports. Over the years, wear is inevitable, whether it’s due to the overload of physical activity or to any disease, incorrect posture or simply due to natural causes that come from the inevitable ageing of the body. However, it is possible to delay that situation. So, for now, you have two options: either you stop working out as much or you take care of your joints.
What can you do to avoid a problem like this?
Besides having a careful diet and choosing the foods that can offer you more nutrients and that may help you overcome and prevent problems related to the joints, you should choose the adequate supplements to help you strengthen your body and to assure you that it has the essential to work at 100%, without claiming nutritional needs. Choose a supplement that contains a few of these nutrients:
There are studies indicating that glucosamine sulphate may help you treat osteoarthritis, a type of arthritis linked to the degeneration of cartilage, due to an injury or to the normal wear that ends up taking place over the years. Glucosamine is produced in the body and has the main goal of regenerating cartilage and ease the pain in the joints. The ability of the body to convert glucose into glucosamine decreases over the years due to the reduction of the amount of the enzyme that synthesizes glucosamine. That way, it is necessary to overcome that barrier with the help of supplements. Besides that, it takes as little as an injury for the body to stop being able to produce enough glucosamine for an adequate heal.
Chondroitin sulphate is also the molecule produced by the body and it is one of the cartilage’s main components.
Like glucosamine, chondroitin sulphate attracts the water present in the body to the cartilage matrix and stimulates its production. The same way, it prevents the enzymes from dissolving the cartilage. Besides preventing the loss of cartilage, chondroitin sulphate enhances the increase of the range of the movement and reduces pain symptoms in the long term, when ingested along with glucosamine.
The body is capable of absorbing glucosamine really quick after taking it. To those who weigh less than 55kg it is recommended to take a daily dose of 1000mg glucosamine and 800mg chondroitin. Between 55kg and 91kg, the daily dosage is 500mg glucosamine taken three times a day (1500mg) and 1200mg chondroitin. People who weigh over 91kg should take about 2000mg glucosamine and 1600mg chondroitin.
Dymethil Sulfone or simply MSM is, usually, recommended for those who don’t take in the necessary amounts of sulfur (mineral). MSM helps with the maintenance of elasticity and flexibility of the connective tissue; it is anti-inflammatory and has an antioxidant action. Besides that, it contributes to the process of collagen production, the protein that keeps skin, hair and joints healthy.
Taking 1500 mg of MSM daily helps relieve osteoarthritis’ symptoms and inflammation and speeds up the recovery of daily wear of the joints and the connective tissue.
You can take it alone or along with other components, like glucosamine and chondroitin.
Quercetin is a natural flavonoid, composed by anti-inflammatory and antioxidant substances that decrease the risk of developing problems related to the wear of cartilage.
Big concentrations of quercetin can be found in apples, onions, tea, broccoli and red wine.
Browellia comes from the extract of Boswellia serrata, a plant whose acids act as a natural anti-inflammatory, reduces swelling and helps improve blood flow in the joints.
Other supplements that may help:
Minerals: The lack of magnesium and zinc is common in most people, especially when it comes to athletes. Some people may have lack of calcium, mainly when they follow diets that are poor in dairy products during long periods of time. Calcium is an essential element to reduce inflammation and joint pain; it is one of the supplements for the knee’s joints.
Vitamins: It is important to take the right amount of vitamins, mainly vitamins D and K, that work in synergy with calcium, considered one of the most important ones when it comes to bone health.
Although some vitamins and minerals may be more important to the health of the joints and the bones than others, the ideal is to obtain adequate levels of every vitamin through you diet and supplementation, if necessary.
Fish Oil: Helps decrease the destruction of joint cells, the symptoms of pain and joint swelling. It may also help speed up blood flow during the exercise.
Joint pain may restrict your physical activities, provoke discomfort and incapacitating pain. As you know, it is possible to relieve that pain and improve your joint functioning through the usage of a few supplements. Besides that, if you usually fell pain, you should change your workouts or exercises (do not use loads that are too heavy and always use a good technique) in order to adapt them to your problem, avoiding its progression.
If you have an injury and/or are suffering from severe pain in the joints or connective tissue, get advice from a health care professional.
Fernando Ribeiro, Os melhores suplementos para as articulações, 31st of August 2013, translation and adaptation of the original version
N/d, 10 Best Supplements for Your Joints, 15th of March 2011, translation and adaptation of the original version
N/d, 12 alimentos que aliviam dores nas articulações, 24th of August 2011, translation and adaptation of the original version