Joint health is essential for everyone. Joints are the connection between two bones, and they allow your body to move freely – to walk to the mailbox, squat down to pick something off the floor, and climb up the stairs.
But for athletes, joint health is even more crucial – it’s the key to their sport.
Shoulder and elbow joints allow a baseball player to throw a 100-mph fastball.
Knee, hip, and ankle joints allow a marathon runner to hit the pavement for their next training run, maintaining a six-minute mile pace.
Wrist joints help a tennis player execute the perfect forehand stroke.
If you’re an athlete, you push your body (and your joints) to the limit nearly every day. You understand how important it is to keep yourself healthy so you can stay in the game and reach your goals.
When it comes to keeping your joints healthy, you may have heard of glucosamine and chondroitin.* Read on to find out what these compounds are and if they may be beneficial to you as an athlete.
What are glucosamine and chondroitin?
Glucosamine and chondroitin are both major components of your cartilage, a type of connective tissue that cushions your joints so you can keep moving with ease.* But each compound plays a slightly different role in joint health.
Glucosamine helps build and maintain healthy cartilage.* It also helps form synovial fluid, which lubricates your joints and helps them move easily.* Chondroitin helps support elasticity – it helps your cartilage retain water so your joints can bounce back after impact.*
Are glucosamine and chondroitin beneficial for athletes?
Most of the research surrounding glucosamine and chondroitin focuses on joint health in older adults.* But some studies show a promising connection between glucosamine and joint health in the scope of athletics.
Sports – especially those that involve high-impact activity – can be hard on your joints. Research suggests that glucosamine may support healthy cartilage structure and help maintain healthy collagen synthesis, another component of cartilage.*
Although research for chondroitin and athletics is limited, many people take it along with glucosamine to support healthy joints, mobility, and an active lifestyle.*
Are glucosamine and chondroitin safe for athletes?
According to the National Institutes of Health, no serious side effects have been reported in large, well-conducted studies of people taking glucosamine, chondroitin, or both for up to three years.
If you’re a competitive athlete, maintaining your athletic integrity is incredibly important. So, be sure to choose a high-quality glucosamine and chondroitin supplement that you can trust. Look for a supplement that bears the NSF seal – it’s your best guarantee that what’s in the product matches the label.
As an athlete, you should work closely with your healthcare provider to ensure your joints continue to move smoothly. Supplements are one component of an overall health maintenance program and should be discussed with your healthcare provider to determine what is best for you.
Joint health is the key to your athletic performance. Your coaches and trainers can help make sure your training regimen is appropriate so you can protect your joints and muscles. But if you’re looking for something else to support joint health, glucosamine may help.* Chondroitin also plays a role in joint health but more research is needed to determine if it’s beneficial for athletes.*