I’ve dealt with chronic knee pain in the past, so I know firsthand how frustrating it can be.
Luckily, there are things we can do to combat this so-called “normal” wear and tear of our joints—specifically our knee joints—that happens to so many of us as we age.
Today, I’m highlighting a few studies that show how strength training and supplements can help relieve joint pain and discomfort as well as improve mobility and quality of life.
And don’t forget to check out my Try This protocol, which features supplements and gentle mobility exercises for some additional strengthening and support.
Let’s jump right in with study #1, which, in my opinion, is one of the most important things we can do for our joints and is a necessary part of any joint-health protocol.
Exercise can have an incredible impact on the strength and function of our joints. In this study, 52 patients with knee osteoarthritis were randomly assigned to an at-home multiple-exercise program or an at-home single-exercise program geared toward strengthening their leg with knee pain.
In the multiple-exercise group, physical therapists selected three exercises for each participant (see my Try This protocol below for the complete list of exercises); the control group followed a single chair-sitting exercise for their quadriceps muscles.
Participants did three sets of ten repetitions for each exercise five times per week for four weeks. At the end of the four weeks, the multiple-exercise group reported significant improvements in their daily living and in the impact of their knee pain on their overall health.
This study just goes to show how powerful movement can be for strengthening our joints—and stronger joints mean less joint pain, which means we can have a greater quality of life and continue to do the things we love and that make us happy.
Study #2: Type II Collagen
Type II collagen is most known for its ability to help repair joint damage and reduce joint pain.
In this randomized controlled trial (RCT), 55 healthy subjects between the ages of 30 and 65 with knee pain were randomly assigned to take 40 mg of type II collagen or a placebo once daily for 120 days.
At the end of the trial, the type II collagen group experienced significant improvements in knee extension (the range of motion for the knee joint when sitting upright and extending the lower leg outward). They were also able to walk at a fast pace for longer before experiencing joint discomfort.
This study displays the benefits of type II collagen for improving joint discomfort and flexibility, which could be due to its ability to repair cartilage and reduce inflammation.
Before we jump into the next study (one of my personal favorite supplements for joint health), I first want to give a shout-out to today’s sponsor, BiOptimizers.
During a recent podcast interview, my dear friend Shawn Stevenson shared that one reason so many people struggle with low energy is that they’re deficient in magnesium.
We can’t use ATP (the energy currency of our cells) without magnesium. And the same goes for the 600 other biochemical reactions it’s involved in, including hormone and neurotransmitter synthesis, sleep, cardiovascular health, and so much more.
Everyone could benefit from taking a magnesium supplement, but there are so many different forms on the market it’s hard to know which one is best.
That’s why I’m such a big fan of BiOptimizers Magnesium Breakthrough.
BiOptimizers Magnesium Breakthrough contains seven different forms of magnesium, which all have unique functions in the body. I started taking BiOptimizers to help with my sleep, especially when I travel, and it’s been a total game-changer for me.
Right now, BiOptimizers is offering my Try This community a super special, limited-time BOGO deal! Click here to see how you can get free bottles with any Magnesium purchase.
Study #3: Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM)
MSM is a sulfur-containing compound that’s been shown to help treat arthritis by beneficially modulating the immune system, lowering inflammation, and preserving joint cartilage.
In this study, 49 men and women between the ages of 45 and 90 years old with knee osteoarthritis were randomly assigned to take 1.125 grams of MSM or a placebo three times a day for 12 weeks. Participants were asked to complete a questionnaire to measure arthritis severity by rating a subset of symptoms (pain, stiffness, and function) and a pain rating scale.
After 12 weeks, the MSM group’s arthritis severity and pain score significantly improved compared to the placebo group.
Study #4: Glucosamine Chondroitin + MSM
You’ve probably heard of supplementing with glucosamine chondroitin (GC) for joint pain because it can help lower inflammation and is a building block for making cartilage. But what happens when we combine it with MSM?
In this clinical trial, researchers set out to determine if a combination of GC and MSM could provide an additive effect for relieving joint pain and arthritis pain and severity in 147 patients with knee osteoarthritis.
Participants were randomly assigned to one of the three groups and each group took their dose once daily for three months.
- Glucosamine chondroitin and MSM (GCM): 1500 mg of glucosamine + 1200 mg of chondroitin sulfate + 500 mg of MSM
- Glucosamine chondroitin (GC): 1500mg of glucosamine + 1200 mg of chondroitin sulfate + 500 mg of a placebo
- Placebo: three capsules of an equivalent placebo
The GCM group had significantly better osteoarthritis pain and severity scores compared to the group taking GC by itself and the placebo group. Based on the available evidence, it looks as if glucosamine chondroitin is more effective when taken with MSM compared to when it’s taken on its own.
- Strength-training exercises. I included the table of exercises performed in study #1 below, so you can try them out for yourself. I would recommend working with a trainer before beginning any type of exercise program to find which exercises are best suited for you.Start with one or two exercises and work your way up to three. Then, after you build up some strength, you can try adding in more.
Here are a few supplement recommendations based on the studies above.
- Collagen Option #1: If you’re interested in a general collagen supplement, I recommend Ancient Nutrition Grass-Fed Multi Collagen. This is the kind I take and will often add it to my smoothies or morning coffee. It contains collagen types I, II, III, V, and X, so you can get the benefits of multiple different types of collagen.
Collagen Option #2: If you want to focus on type II collagen specifically for supporting your joint health, Metagenics OsteoVantiv is an excellent option for an easy-to-take supplement form.
- Glucosamine chondroitin. Whether you take it by itself or combined with MSM, a high-quality glucosamine chondroitin supplement like this one can be a great tool for supporting your joint health and for building up worn-down cartilage.
- Pure Encapsulations MSM Capsules. If you’re looking for an MSM supplement, I highly recommend this brand. I used it when I was dealing with chronic knee pain and was super impressed by how much of an impact it made. When friends and family ask me for suggestions on supplements for joint pain, this is my go-to recommendation. Try pairing it with glucosamine chondroitin for added joint pain relief.
There are so many people out there who are silently suffering from joint pain and think it’s just a normal part of getting older. But it doesn’t have to be this way! There are things we can start doing today to prevent and reverse the weakening of our joints—starting with the power of movement.
The more proactive we are, the sooner we can get to the root of the issue and protect our joints from arthritis, pain, and fractures as we get older.
Here’s to your joint health,
P.S.: A lot of chronic joint pain can be attributed to the fact that our modern-day shoes have totally messed up our feet, which has a cascading effect that travels upward to our knee joints.
If you want to learn more about the science of foot strength and the impact it has on our risk of falling as we get older, check out this blog by Vivobarefoot.