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Joint Care for the Older Fitness Enthusiast

Sports nutrition is not just a young person’s game, writes Dean Mosca, president of Proprietary Nutritionals, Inc.

Dean Mosca

April 10, 2014

4 Min Read
Joint Care for the Older Fitness Enthusiast

Up until only about 50 or so years ago, those folks in their upper 40s and mid 60s were clearlydifferentiated by social, economic, and even physical status.

Those lines have all but been washed away.

Some people retire early, others keep on earning steadily through their 70s, and a large and growing number of middle-aged and early elderly are keeping in shape through various forms of fitness and athletics—quite a few even competing seriously.

Take the Celadrin Tigerettes for example:  six senior women basketball players, comprise the reigning Senior Olympic Women’s Basketball champs. The team has been competing for over 15 years, winning seven Senior Olympic gold medals and dozens of state and regional awards.  Mavis Albin, Mary Bendsen, Wanda Blailock, Loretta Hill, Nikki Leader and Catherine “Kitty” Sparacello are the Celadrin Tigerettes, all range in age from 66 to 77.

"Training is very important to maintain your stamina and muscle tone, but we also have our little secrets that help keep us going," Albin says. "As a team, we believe in proper nutrition, daily use of nutritional supplements and engaging in an active lifestyle. The ladies and I do our research on what works for us. Supplements such as fish oil, omega-3s and Celadrin help prevent inflammation and stiffness. We also watch our diets and make sure we’re getting enough whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and protein. If we start making poor decisions it will show up on the court."

Formulating joint support products for the older athlete makes tremendous sense. According to the American Journal of Nursing (2012), the number of U.S. adults with arthritis is projected to rise to 67 million by 2030. OA is a degenerative joint disease that typically presents in middle age, but today's 40- and 50-somethings are dead set against it sidelining their active lives.

"Thus, the sheer number of adults who participate in exercise/athletics will most certainly increase. And this increase will mean more aches and pains, injuries, and recovery from injuries. Hopefully, we hope this means more adults will take preventative measures to ensure their joints remain healthy."

Knee OA, it appears, does seem to be more prevalent in older individuals who have always been involved in sports or routine physical fitness.

In a sports medicine journal, a team of researchers published a report that described a 2012 systematic review showing that between 60 percent and 80 percent of former elite soccer players developed radiologic evidence of knee OA; and another study showed a higher incidence of OA in women who were former athletes (tennis and distance marathoners) aged 40 to 65, when compared with age-matched controls. 1

Another research team investigated associations between sports/fitness activity and knee OA, based on the notion that previous trauma is strongly associated with the condition and because there is a sharp increase in older individuals taking part in various activities including fitness/gym routines, intensive running and cycling, and team sports. In their abstract, the authors assert, "It has been hypothesized that physical activity might increase cartilage degeneration and thus accelerate knee OA. Previous research did not show a significant association between intense physical activity and knee OA in the general population. A strong association was found in cases of former joint injury and in acquired and congenital joint defects." 2

Beyond addressing pain and inflammation with ingredients such as Celadrin, when formulating for the active middle-agers, Ziegenfuss advises to not ignore the connective tissue "glue." Most joint products on the market, he maintains, make the mistake of focusing primarily on bone. "Ingredients that help connective tissue like cartilage and tendons stay healthy (and even regenerate more quickly from injury) are poised to make the biggest market impact in the near future," he predicts.

People are constantly told via their physicians and the health media to engage in exercise. There are many who never stopped. And they do not want to be sidelined by aging, painful joints.


1.  Adams, T., et al. "Physical Therapy Management of Knee Osteoarthritis in the Middle-aged Athlete"  Sports Med Arthrosc Rev  2013, Vol 21, No.1, March study link -- revdesportiva.pt/files/para_publicar/Physical_Therapy_Management_of_Knee_Osteoarthritis.2.pdf

2.  Zeller L,  Sukenik S., "The association between sports activity and knee osteoarthritis" Harefuah. 2008 Apr;147(4):315-9, 374. 

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