We all know that running is a great way to keep yourself active and fit but like every other strenuous activity, it can cause long-term damage to your body, especially your knees. Research in this area is still in its infant stages however certain supplements such as fish oil and glucosamine are showing to help treat ailments associated with running.
WHAT IS glucosamine ?
Glucosamine is a protein that occurs naturally in the human body. It is needed for the body to produce glycosaminoglycan which it uses to repair soft tissue and cartilage however the commercially available glucosamine is derived from the exo-skeletons of fish and sometimes from shark of cow cartilage.
As we age the amount of glucosamine that our bodies can produces reduce. In order to stay healthy and keep their bodies stocked up on this vital nutrient, many runners take regular supplements to keep their levels high, especially those who have knee problems.
Using Glucosamine to Treat Sore Muscles
Muscles get sore after a hard workout. It is part of the healing process as the muscles become more firm and stronger however it causes a lot of discomfort. Sometimes the discomfort is due to inflammation especially when training for a race.
According to a study published by the Open Access Journal of Sport's Medicine, glucosamine is an effective treatment in relieving this soreness. The more glucosamine that your body has, the more raw materials that it has to repair the damaged muscle tissue in your legs.
Does Glucosamine Treat and Prevent Arthritis?
Arthritis is a degenerative ailment that weakens people joints as their cartilage becomes weaker. Due to the high amount of strain that runners put on their joints, they are particularly at risk of suffering from arthritis.
A study that was published on the Physician Assistant Studies Student Scholarship in 2013 demonstrated how having regular doses of glucosamine reduced the chances of runners needing knee joint replacements among adults who were likely to get arthritis.
Different studies claim that the results on glucosamine's effectiveness in treating arthritis in runners are inconclusive, sparking a debate among healthcare officials. Some studies have shown that when compared to a placebo, glucosamine supplements did not reduce joint pain or prevent osteoarthritis.
Why is Glucosamine is One of the Most Popular Supplements for Runners?
Despite the reluctance of half of health care experts to commit to the idea of glucosamine being a solution for runner's knee and other arthritis-related illnesses, people are willing to buy the supplement and find out for themselves. At present, sales for pills containing glucosamine is nearing the $2 billion mark.
Runnersworld.com run a poll among its regular viewers and found that 95% of the runners polled had tried supplements at least once and 78% of those reported that their ailments improved when they took the supplements. A negligible number of those who took the supplements had adverse reactions.
Is the Popularity of Glucosamine Amongst Runners May be Due to Clever Marketing?
The question of what causes knee cartilage to wear out is yet unanswered. There are no studies which prove that running often leads to cartilage wearing out despite runners often complaining of discomfort in their knees. The problem is that all existing studies are based on runners who are likely to have arthritis and do not pay attention to injuries or runners who stopped running.
Another reason not to trust the results from studies done on glucosamine and how it benefits runners is that they are done by the same companies that sell the supplements which is a clear conflict of interest.
When You Might Not Really Need Glucosamine
Although this supplement has been effective in treating pain and reducing inflammation it is often associated with intestinal complications and leads to cartilage degeneration with sustained use. If you plan on taking glucosamine supplements then you should be prepared to wait a few weeks before you start to experience the benefits.
Supplements may help if you are feeling a lot of discomfort but the best thing that you can do for your body if you run often is to eat a balanced diet. Eat plenty of oily fish and take a lot of calcium along with vitamin D to keep your bones strong. If you must take supplements, look for those high in Omega-3s.
Best Glucosamine Supplements for Runners
Amazon selected Zenwise Labs - Joint Support Supplement as their Amazon's Choice which is typically awarded to products that have high reviews and are the most trusted among subscribers. You can grab your supplements here.
The folks from Simply Supplements put together this infographic that summarizes the benefits of glucosamine for runners.