Motion Made Easier

Supplying hard-working joints with collagen may facilitate smoother movement.

March 2014

by Lisa James


As spring spreads renewed warmth across the country, people are finally coming out of winter hibernation and becoming more physically active. But for the 27 million Americans who suffer from osteo­arthritis (OA), the most common type, pain and stiffness make exertion difficult. Given how crucial exercise is to overall well-being, creaky joints represent a significant roadblock in the efforts of many people to stay healthy.

Fortunately there are ways to encourage better joint performance by promoting the body’s own regeneration and repair efforts.

Cartilage Damage

In theory one need never develop arthritis at all. Healthy cartilage and synovial fluid, which lubricates many joints, allows for motion with very low levels of friction. And healthy tendons help hold joints together, allowing bones and other joint components to stay in proper alignment.

However, over time most people experience joint damage caused by factors that include injuries, repetitive stress, abnormal gait and disorders such as gout. When that happens, cartilage can become soft and develop cracks, while the bone underneath may become pitted and even overgrow in an attempt to repair the damage. This results in pain, swelling and stiffness upon awakening or after inactivity.

Knees, hips, fingers, big toes and the spine are the sites most frequently afflicted by OA. It usually progresses slowly, leading to reduced range of motion. OA in the neck or lower back may cause numbness, pain and weakness in a leg or an arm if excess bone growth presses on a nerve.

Cartilage Restoration

Natural ways to ease OA symptoms include acupuncture, heat therapy, massage and low-impact exercise. Evidence also suggests that key nutrients and herbs can help reduce pain and increase flexibility.

One way to support healthy joints is to supply them with collagen, the key protein found in both tendons and cartilage. TendoGuard provides this vital protein as collagen hydrolysate, along with hyaluronic acid and other natural substances, in a form readily used by the body. In one double-blind study, a greater percentage of volunteers who took collagen hydrolysate experienced “clinically significant improvement” compared with those in a placebo group (Complementary Therapies in Medicine 6/12).

Other OA supplements have proven themselves useful. Among the best-known are glucosamine and chondroitin, which supply the body with cartilage building blocks. In one well-controlled study, participants who took a glucosamine/chondroitin formulation experienced better symptom control and improvements in collagen creation compared with people in the placebo group (Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture 3/12).

Ayurveda, India’s system of traditional medicine, offers another popular arthritis agent. Boswellia serrata, a tree found from northern Africa to India, has long been used to relieve joint pain, a usage that is backed by published research (Ayu 10/11). A patented boswellia extract called ApresFlex offers better absorption and greater effectiveness than standard preparations. And boswellia’s ability to fight inflammation is magnified when used with other anti-inflammatories, such as extracts taken from açai, grapes, green tea, olives, turmeric and plant-based enzymes.

Spring is here—it’s time to get out and move. Smart joint-health supplementation can help prevent arthritis from getting in your way.

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