Joint Pain and Athletes: What Athletes Really Need Know?

Grace Lopez

Everyone who’s ever played sports knows about the pain that comes from the activity; tired, achy muscles at best, and sore, aching joints at worst. Repetitive stress is hard on joints, and its effects worsen over time. Competitive sports, such as tennis, basketball, football, and ice hockey wear out the body’s weight-bearing joints, starting with the knees. Hobby sports, such as jogging, biking, mountain or rock climbing, and volleyball also create repetitive stress injuries, again starting with the knees, and the ankles.

Why Activity is Hard on the Joints?

Joint Pain and Athletes

Your joints are the points where two bones in the body meet and bend; the joint is what makes the bending possible. The two bones are protected by cartilage and joint fluid. The cartilage provides cushioning, and the fluid keeps the cartilage and joint lubricated, allowing for easy movement. When the joint is a weight-bearing joint, repetitive activity wears away the cartilage until the bones are rubbing against one another. This condition is known as osteoarthritis. Other forms of arthritis cause swelling and pain in the joints as well.

Repetitive Stress

Forms of activity, like the sports mentioned above, when played often, cause repetitive stress on the joints. Not just the knees; elbows, shoulders, wrists, ankles, and hips are all affected by the constant demands placed on them by sports activities. Sports involving jumping and landing, such as basketball, volleyball, and figure skating, can cause repetitive stress injuries along the spinal column, in the knees, ankles, and hips. Athletes in these sports are also subject to muscle strains and sprains, and achy muscles can also impact joints, as they are pulled out of alignment as they try to compensate for the injured parts.

What to Do?

Athletes, whether weekend warriors or serious competitors, generally know how to care for the minor injuries occurring while playing. Achy muscles and minor joint injuries are treated with heat, ice, topical analgesics, braces and supports, and over-the-counter pain relievers. When the injuries are not minor, most athletes visit an allopathic doctor, and get a more serious pain reliever, and undergo physical therapy until the injury is healed. These treatments work very well for the injuries, but do nothing to repair the damage done to the joints.

Supplements as Therapy

There are supplements known to work on repairing injured joints, and there is also magnetic therapy. Glucosamine Sulfate, not glucosamine hydrochloride, has been shown by studies to be an effective treatment for damaged joints. Hyaluronic acid is also effective in joint treatment. Vitamins C, D, and E are indicated to support healing.

Magnetic therapy is used by the United States Sports Academy to speed healing in broken bones, soft tissue injuries, and inflamed joints. Magnetic therapy works by speeding circulation to the injured areas, which speeds the healing process.

How to Prevent Injuries?

The best defense is a good offense; this is especially true for athletes. Proper equipment, especially for your feet, can mean the difference between staying healthy and hurting yourself. For tennis players, basketball players, volleyball players, and runners, quality shoes are a must. Choose the shoe best suited to your sport, and one that really fits your feet. Cheap shoes mean sore, aching feet, and injured ankles, strained muscles, and sore knees. For football players, baseball players, and golfers, shoes with cleats are essential to allow fast turns and quick stops on grass and Astroturf surfaces. For ice hockey players, figure skaters, and speed skaters, the boot portion of the skate must fit the foot well and provide support for the ankles and arches. Proper padding is necessary for contact sports, to minimize injuries to the shoulders, back and chest.

Taking supplements before the joints are worn is good preventative therapy. The glucosamine will keep the joint cartilage healthy, instead of trying to replace it after it’s gone. Vitamins and antioxidants keep the body healthy, instead of trying to repair damage after it’s done.

Conclusion

Preventing damage to your joint pain before your sport causes injury is the best course of action. If it’s too late to prevent it, use supplements and vitamins to repair the damage as much as possible. Use proper equipment when playing, and learn proper form for your sport, to reduce repetitive stress and other injuries. Most of all, take care of yourself, and have fun!