Stop Worrying About Being Sidelined by Sore or Stiff Joints During Exercise

woman riding an exercise bike

In your 20s and 30s, keeping up with other exercise participants was as much about wearing great-looking fitness gear as it was finishing the routine. Now that menopause has hit, you may be more worried about post-workout aches and stiffness slowing you down. Before you abandon your fitness goals, read about results of this first-ever study on healthy women.

Results show there may be a natural way to show your joints and cartilages some love, and alleviate joint pain or stiffness up to 12 hours post-exercise. You may finally be able to get the benefits of exercise without as many downsides.

Improving your wellness strategy

When I talk with people about preventive medicine, I always ask what they are doing to support their own health. The basic tenets to wellbeing are getting enough sleep, exercising three to five days a week, having a body mass index below 25, eating five or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day, limiting alcohol intake and not smoking.

Of all those, exercise is one of the biggest downfalls for most people. Even healthy people can feel discomfort after working out, so they often abandon exercise.

Cartilage loss may indirectly contribute to creaky, achy joints

You may not know that cartilage loss may ultimately contribute to joint pain and stiffness. Not only are we talking about cartilage loss in the spinal discs, which can be quite significant, but loss of cartilage on the end of our bones, including the hips, knees and even ankles.

Cartilage doesn?t have nerve endings. Until it gets worn down to the point where bone is exposed and nerves are irritated, we may not have any idea what?s happening to our cartilage. Often once it reaches that stage, it?s difficult to do anything about it. The idea is to keep all 230-or-so joints in our bodies as healthy as possible.

In addition to affecting height, cartilage loss also helps explain why joints may feel uncomfortable, creaky or achy, causing you to lose the motivation to exercise. And without exercise, your joints will probably get even stiffer.

The good news is there are things you can start doing today that may help your cartilages and your joints.

Study shows a natural way for healthy women to support their joints and cartilages ?

Sixty healthy, postmenopausal women who did not engage in a regular lower body exercise regimen participated in this two-week study. They were selected based upon several criteria including the absence of persistent lower extremity joint pain. They were randomly assigned to receive either a placebo or 500 mg of NEM?, a natural ingredient made from eggshell membranes, once daily. NEM is a minimally processed ingredient that naturally contains collagen and other beneficial proteins, peptides and amino acids as well as chondroitin, hyaluronic acid and other glycosaminoglycans. During the study, they followed a simple exercise regimen (50 to 100 steps per leg) on alternating days. Researchers wanted to see if they could reduce exercise-induced cartilage turnover, as measured by the amount of a biomarker, called CTX-II, excreted in their urine. They also evaluated the women?s joint pain and stiffness after exercise.

They found that the women who took NEM had significantly less cartilage turnover after both week one and two, than the placebo group. Those taking NEM also experienced less joint pain and recovered faster from exercise than those taking the placebo. An improvement in joint stiffness occurred as early as four days after supplementation with NEM.? The results from this study expanded the benefits shown in previous studies by demonstrating that NEM can improve joint comfort and flexibility in a healthy exercising population. Previous studies have also shown that NEM can improve joint comfort and flexibility without the side effects seen with over-the-counter drugs.

If you can move more easily and recover faster, it?s logical (and hoped) that you will exercise more frequently and consistently. Knowing that your joint cartilage may also be protected from damage as you exercise might further improve your inclination to get moving. You may only get this benefit with concentrated supplement form of eggshell membrane. You won?t get it from eating eggs.

Why (and how) you should stay active

As an exercise physiologist, I can confirm that we don?t have enough space to list every benefit of exercise. And lack of physical activity is detrimental to all your joint tissues, including your cartilage. Suffice it to say that anything that safely and effectively improves your ability and willingness to stay active is helpful.

Our knees, shoulders and other articulating joints are designed to move, but sometimes even moderate exercise just isn?t comfortable. That?s why the results of this study are so exciting. It points to a once daily, low-dose, fast-acting intervention that supports joint mobility and may slow cartilage turnover.

To learn more about NEM, which comes in small, easy-to-swallow capsules, tablets, chews and even bars, visit


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