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Joint Troubles
 

By Will Brink, author of: Muscle Building Nutrition and Diet Supplements Revealed

One of the most common problems faced by strength training athletes is joint pain. "Oh my shoulder is killing me" or "my knee has been bothering me for months" or "I have been living on pain killers to get rid of this ache in my elbow" are common complaints that can be heard in any gym at any time. Oddly enough however, this topic is not covered very often in most bodybuilding/fitness magazines. Maybe the topic is just not all that "sexy" or "cutting edge," but if you're one of the thousands of people whose gains in muscle are being side tracked by joint troubles, then you don't give a damn about sexy or cutting edge-you just want relief!

In the past few years I have noticed an increase in letters and e-mail from people complaining about their joints. In all honesty, I would estimate 80% or more of most bodybuilders joint pain is totally avoidable. If you look at people who have chronic joint pain, nine out of ten times you can see why they would have an aching appendage that causes them pain. More often that not, they (1) rarely warm up adequately, (2) they train too long and/or too often, (3) they use overly heavy weights/low reps more often than they should, (4) they don't take time off to allow their joints, tendons, muscles, etc., to recuperate from heavy workouts, (5) they use less than perfect form during heavy lifts, (6) they don't take in adequate nutrients, or (7) all of the above!

Now of course we have all had an ache or pain in a knee, elbow , or other joint at times, but chronic long term pain is another story. This article is going to assume that the reader has joint pain NOT because he (or she) is doing any one of the above seven common mistakes, but has joint pain due to some other factor out of their control. If you warm up and stretch thoroughly, train for no longer than an hour three-four days per week, cycle your weights and reps, take time off when you need it, have good form, take in adequate nutrients, and still have joint problems... than this might be the article for you.



Types of joint problems



There are of course different types of problems that cause common joint pain in athletes and "normal" people alike. Bursitis, tendonitis, various types of arthritis, and other afflictions, can be the cause of a person's aching joints. Briefly, here is a description of the most common types and causes of joint pain that afflict athletes:

Arthritis: There are many different forms of arthritis. The two most common are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Of the two, osteoarthritis is by far the most common to bodybuilders and other athletes. Caused by wear and tear on the joints, osteoarthritis is characterized by a deterioration of the cartilage at the ends of the bones. The once smooth cartilage becomes rough thus causing more and more friction and pain. Left untreated and unchecked, this can become very debilitating for the hard training athlete. Chronic osteoarthritis has ended the career of numerous athletes.

Bursitis: In our joints there are small fluid filled sacks called bursae. The bursae's job is to assist in the muscle/joints movement by cushioning the joints and bones against friction. If these sacks become inflamed and/or injured due to various causes (see above training mistakes), a chronic pain called "bursitis" can result. It's most often found in the shoulder or elbow (A.K.A. tennis elbow) but can also be found in other joints of the body. It hurts like hell and can ruin a workout quickly if left untreated.

Tendonitis: Tendonitis is probably the most common cause of pain to bodybuilders and other athletes and is (luckily) the easiest to treat. However, if left untreated and the person just "works through the pain," it can become a real problem that will put a quick end to your gains in muscle. Basically, tendonitis just means the tendon(s) around a joint have become severely inflamed from overuse, micro injury, etc. Though it might sound simple enough, for people who suffer from chronic tendonitis it's no joke and a real pain in the...joint!



 

Treatment options


Again, this article is going to assume that the reader warms up properly before working out, does not severely overtrain, yada, yada, yada, as mentioned in the beginning of this article. If the reader (you?) is in the gym all day, thinks one set on the bench press is a warm up, and feels anything over 3 reps is high rep training, than you need go no further to find the answers to what's bothering your joints!

The treatment options we are going to look at relate to natural compounds, or mixtures of natural compounds, that could save a person with aching joints years of pain and possibly even more. Unfortunately, the treatments offered by traditional medicine at this time are generally of little use to highly active people. Most of the treatments for joint problems address the symptoms (pain, swelling, etc) rather than the cause and can often make the problem worse in the long run. Non-steroidal anti- inflammatories, cortical steroid injections, joint replacement, and the always useful "stay off it" advice does not tend to yield the results most athletes want.

If you look at the names of the aforementioned types of joint problems, you will notice they all end with the term "itis," as in tendon-itis, arthr-itis, and burs-itis. The suffix "-itis" means "inflammation of " according to The American Medical Association Encyclopedia of Medicine. Knowing this, you can see that bursitis means inflammation of the bursea sack, tendonitis means inflammation of the tendons, and arthritis means....well you get the point. Medical terms for afflictions that end in "-itis" tell us that though the causes and manifestations are different, the final problems is one of inflammation. Inflammation is characterized by pain, swelling, redness, and less obvious symptoms. This leads us finally to our list of natural compounds/products that might just save the joints of the person reading this article who thought their workouts would never be the same because their joints are giving them so much trouble. These products tend to address not only the symptoms of the problem-that is the inflammation-but the underlying causes as well.



Jello Anyone?


As strange as it might seem, the main ingredient (gelatin) in good old Jello might be just what the doctor ordered for painful joints. Gelatin has been marketed world wide for many years as a food and as a supplement. Gelatin is made from animal collagen. In all animals-including man- collagen is an essential structural protein that forms an important part of bones, tendons, and connective tissues. It is a tough insoluble protein that is essential for keeping the many cells and tissues of the body together. Gelatin contains an exceptionally high content of two amino acids which play an important part in collagen formation, namely proline and glycine.

In fact, it takes 43 grams of dried egg whites or 35 grams of dried non fat milk or 89 grams of lean beef to equal the amount of proline in just 10 grams of hydrolyzed gelatin. Though the body can form these two amino acids on its own, it has been suggested that under certain conditions the rate of synthesis may be insufficient to provide essential body requirements and degradation can exceed synthetic processes (i.e. there is a steady loss of body collagen). The intake of hydrolyzed gelatin appears to be an alternative route to getting chondrocytes (cartilage producing cells) and osteoblasts (bone forming cells) of the body sufficient amounts of these important amino acids for making structural proteins. Although chondrocytes are critical for collagen formation, their number is limited and their ability to form this much needed protein is influenced by heredity, age, physical activity (too little or too much), injury, and availability of nutrients.

Although bone metabolism is quite complex and not fully understood, there is a growing number of studies showing the intake of just ten grams per day of hydrolyzed gelatin is effective in greatly reducing pain, improving mobility and overall bone/cartilage health. Several randomized, double-blinded, crossover trials have shown improvements in symptoms related to joint pain (Adem et. al. Therapiewoche, 1991). The people at Knox (the Jello people) have made a product specifically for bone health and joints called NutraJoint. It contains hydrolyzed gelatin, calcium , and vitamin C. Calcium is of obvious importance to bone health and vitamin C is an essential and limiting nutrient for connective tissue formation. NutraJoint is cheap, has no side effects, and tastes good. I recommend one packet mixed with OJ with breakfast for people suffering from joint pain.



Cetyl Myrist..what?



A fatty acid with the long and hard to pronounce name of Cetyl Myristoleate has been receiving a good deal of attention by researchers concerned with joint pain and health. Being it's difficult for the reader to pronounce-or for me to write for that matter-I will just call it CMT for the remainder of this article, OK?

Discovered by a researcher at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), CMT looks very promising as a compound that greatly reduces joint pain due to a variety of causes. In animals CMT was found to be very protective of joints from different chemicals that would normally cause arthritis in these animals. Though the human research at this time is not as solid as we would like, CMT has already developed a following with some alternative medical practitioners and by those who suffer from joint pain. Several bodybuilders I work with swear by the stuff though I cant vouch for it at this time as I have had no personal experience with this product. Also, its effects seem to work rather quickly and relatively small amounts can be used. 12-15 grams spread out over an entire month appear to be effective. Exactly how CMT works is unclear but it might have something to do with a reduction in pro-inflammatory prostaglandins (see below) or some other mechanism. EHP Products Inc. makes a CMT product that is endorsed by the researcher who discovered it. They can be reached at 888-EHP-0100. A company called G nS Marketing also sells CMT (they call it CMO) and can be contacted by calling 800-829-1514.

Continued on page 2  >>  Joint Troubles 2 


See Will's ebooks online here:

Muscle Building Nutrition
A complete guide bodybuilding supplements and eating to gain lean muscle

Diet Supplements Revealed
A review of diet supplements and guide to eating for maximum fat loss

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