You don’t really start thinking about joint problems as a runner until you pass the age of 40. Once I had my kids and segued to more high-level running, I noticed my joints were achy every time I restarted a training block. I had bilateral knee pain for those first few steps and would start aching as soon as I stopped running. This is when I started to search for the best joint supplement for runners.
My experience with the Best Joint Supplement for Runners
Thankfully, I found it, Previnex Joint Health PLUS, (more below!) and now every time I’ve had to take a break from running and restart again, my joints feel healthy and functional. In fact, I ran out of my joint
supplement after running the Carmel Marathon this past spring and I noticed! After my recovery weeks, I had stiff joints and wondered what the heck was going on? Then it dawned on me! I forgot to re-order my Previnex joint supplement. After a week of taking it, my joints felt mobile and fluid again.
I also credit my joints feeling better to minding all the “little things” that come with being a healthy runner like strength training, warming up, cooling down, and doing my mobility work.
I started taking better care of my joints as I realized the importance of them being able to run healthily for a long time as well as optimal running performance. As I’ve written before, mobility is what you want as a runner not flexibility. And mobility comes from having full range of motion in your joints. If your body can’t move its parts as far, then you aren’t going to move as fast as you want—and eventually the extra strain to move will cause a breakdown somewhere.
I don’t want this to happen to you. So, I am rounding up:
- How to have healthy joints as a runner
- What to look for in a joint supplement
- What should not be in a joint supplement, and
- The 3 best joint supplement for runners (and why).
Note: I am not a doctor. If you have questions about joint pain, see one!
Let’s get this joint article in motion!!
Why do runners need a joint supplement?
Running is a repetitive high impact sport that can strengthen bones while putting lots of stress on runners’ joints. If you are a masters runner, the aging process can exacerbate the stress effects as time can weaken and even breakdown the tissues that cushion and connect our joints.
Indeed, about 55 million Americans have stiffy and achy joints from excess friction between the points. And running, unfortunately, can worsen joint degeneration and joint discomfort.
What causes joint pain in runners?
If you have achy or painful joints, it is likely due to damage to one of the parts of the joint. The human body is amazing and intricate, so if one part of it is off, others will eventually become affected.
With that in mind, below are what makes a joint and how they can cause you pain if not in proper working order:
- Bone damage: The first part of the joint is the bone. Running makes bones stronger. However, too much stress on the bone can cause them to fracture or break. This can also occur if other parts of the joint aren’t working properly.
- Cartilage wear: Cartilage provides cushioning between bones but over time can break down causing stiffness, pain, and a grinding sensation. Osteoarthritis is when the cartilage between joints breaks down and wears away, allowing the bones to rub together.
- Low synovial fluid: Synovial fluid plays a crucial role in joint mobility. It is like the oil in our cars–a jelly like substance that lubricates our joints so they can move smoothly. It decreases as we age leading to more friction in our joints.
Related: Running After 40, 50, 60 + Beyond
- Damaged ligaments: Ligaments are a fibrous connective tissues that connect bones to bones, holding them together and serving as shock absorbers. Aging and high-impact exercise like running can cause wear and tear in the form of being stretched or even torn. (Think torn ACL or MCL).
- Damaged tendons: Tendons are a spring-like connective tissue and are similar to ligaments except they attach muscles to bones. Like ligaments, age and high-impact physical activity like running can cause microtears (strains) and tears.
Related: Best Supplements for Runners
How can you keep your joints healthy?
The good news is there are steps you can take to keep your joints healthy.
Here are some of them:
Do a regular mobility routine.
Proper range of motion is key for successful and healthy running. Ensuring your joints are moving the way intended, keeps the stress on the joint balanced and mitigates wear and tear. It also ensures your synovial fluid is keeping your joints lubricated.
Guess what?! I have a 5-minute mobility routine for you to do before your run or anytime you have time. Personally, I do a portion of this routine about three times a day to keep my spine and hips moving fluidly (before working out, at lunch, and during my kids’ bath time).
- Check out my 5-minute Mobility Routine for Runners here.
- You can also do yoga to maintain mobility, particularly flow yoga. Check out the best yoga moves for runners here.
- Foam rolling may also help with mobility. Check out my foam rolling guide here.
Keeping your muscles strong provide powerful joint support. Strong muscles relieve excess pressure on your working joints. Lifting two to three times per week, hitting your major muscle groups plus your core will do this.
If you don’t use it, you’ll lose it—as in range of motion. So keep running so your body maintains it range of motion for its joints. Running will also help you maintain a healthy weight, putting less stress on the joints. If you can’t run due to joint pain, work to get back to it while doing something else less with less impact.
There are foods you can eat that promote joint health including:
- Omega-3 fatty acids in nuts and oily fish like salmon
- Leafy greens like spinach
- Citrus fruits with vitamin C
- Curcumin, and
While you’re eating well, don’t forget to hydrate. Your body needs fluids to keep moving fluidly. The synovial fluid is made mostly. of water and your body literally dries out when you don’t drink enough! Get yourself a tall Yeti or Stanley cup, fill it with ice and water, and make it your special companion.
Check out my hydration guide for runners for more info.
Take a joint supplement.
A high quality one. Remember a supplement is meant to supplement your diet because you can’t likely get the amount of nutrients you need in only food.
Until recently glucosamine supplements with glucosamine hydrochloride or chondroitin supplements with chondroitin sulfate were supposed to be the gold standard of joint supplements. But more research has been done to show that other ingredients can enhance the effectiveness of joint supplements.
Therefore, look for a joint health supplement that contains a combination of the following ingredients:
- Natural Eggshell Membrane (or NEM) is a natural compound which contains collagen, a building block for healthy joints.
- Glucosamine with Chondroitin is found in the structural components of cartilage and can be made in supplement form.
- Astaxanthin is a natural compound with antioxidant. properties that has been shown in recent research to maintain healthy cartilage.
- Boswellia has been shown to relieve joint pain and Rheumatoid arthritis
- Hyaluronic Acid which helps with synovial fluid density.
- Type II Collagen which can help mobility thereby improving achiness.
- Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), an organic form of sulfur, is believed to help decrease joint inflammation and promote collagen production.
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids can help reduce inflammation in the body.
- Curcumin found in tumeric has strong anti-inflammatory properties.
- Avocado-Soybean Unsaponifiables (ASU), a vegetable extract made from avocado and soybean oils., may slow the progression of osteoarthritis.
- SAMe (S-adenosylmethionine) is a naturally occurring molecule in the body that may promote cartilage health.
What shouldn’t be in a joint health supplement?
Looking at the “other ingredients,” joint health supplements should not include fillers or gums. MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane) can cause stomach upset so I advise avoiding it if you have a sensitive stomach.
How can tell if it is a high quality supplement?
There are a lot of bad joint supplements out there as dietary supplements aren’t regulated by the Federal Drug Administration in the United States. Therefore, you have to do your own research.
Look at the expiration date (shouldn’t be more than two years), manufacturing facility (pharmaceutical grade), third-party tested results (not tested in their garage, for example), sourcing information (in the U.S. preferably), amount of ingredients (look up what is an effective daily dose), and “other ingredients.”
Learn more here: How to Tell if a Supplement is Good Quality
Don’t worry though. I’ve done the research for you. Below are the best joint supplements for runners!
The Best Joint Health Supplements for Runners
Below are the best joint health supplements for runners. Before taking a supplement though, talk to your doctor!
Best Overall: Previnex Joint Health PLUS
$37.95 for a one-month supply
*Save 10 percent with Subscribe & Save (Cancel anytime and you get an email before your next order)
*Save 15 percent with my code TMR15.
Why do I love the Previnex Joint Health PLUS supplement so much? Because it works! It’s worked for me as well as many of my endurance athletes, including those with advanced knee arthritis, chronic joint pain, and osteoarthritis, and those over 50.
Previnex Joint Health PLUS is backed by science and third-party research.
- Combines two clinically proven ingredients, NEM® and Boswellin®, in a proprietary formula that provides the best joint protection and joint pain relief possible
- Clinical studies show that NEM® can reduce joint pain, joint stiffness, and improve flexibility in 7-10 days, and protect joint cartilage from breakdown during exercise versus placebo
- Boswellin® is a powerful, natural, and clinically proven anti-inflammatory and pain reliever that provides additional support for joints.
- NEM® is clinically proven to be up to 5 times more beneficial than glucosamine and chondroitin alone or in combination
- If you don’t notice a difference in the first month, get your money back!
- This product was recommended by a chiropractor four years ago because I was having what I thought was arthritis pain. He was right, pain gone, whether it was arthritis or something else.
- This product has been a huge help. I started noticing the difference in my joint health within the first 5 days. I highly recommend this product as it helps to keep me ready and prepared to take on the tough rigors of being a highly competitive runner, a teacher, a coach, and a soldier that is always on the move.
- This genuinely worked. My close friend told me about this product, and I thought he was full of crap but my joints felt better after 3 days on the supplement. Crazy results.
Best Vegan: Performance Lab Flex
$49 for month supply
*Save 10 percent when you sign up and save when you buy a two or three month supply
Flex promises to protect achy joints, lubricate, and nourish them with vegan upgrades over other product’s shellfish and animal ingredients.
- Along with botanical support, Flex supplies building blocks Glucosamine, Chondroitin and MSM – the most studied joint stack for supporting joint function, strength and renewal over time.
- Easy to take without causing stomach upset.
- Clean, vegan and natural ingredients.
- Quality ingredients including:
- CurcuWIN® curcumin: Regulates the COX-2 enzyme and protects cartilage
- AprèsFlex® Boswellia serrata: Produces a gum resin with active Boswellic acids that regulate immune responses and protect against cartilage and tissue-damaging enzymes
- Glucosamine Sulfate 2KCL: An amino sugar from corn that supports cartilage regeneration, joint lubrication, and the rebuilding of connective tissues
- Phytodroitin™: Supports joint hydration, healthy collagen, and cartilage repair
- OptiMSM®: Key nutrient for collagen and other proteins
- NutriGenesis® strontium: Stimulates the bone-building cells while inhibiting the cells that degrade bones
Best Budget: Osteo Bio-Flex
$29 for 40 day supply
Osteo Bio-Flex was the first joint supplement I ever saw when my dad started taking it decades ago. It’s a leader in the market and has been for a long time because it works. It’s backed by science yet doesn’t include the latest studied ingredients indicated to help improve joint health.
- Clinically proven to help joint discomfort within a week.
- Joint Shield™ 5-LOXIN Advanced®, a highly concentrated herbal extract that helps improve joint comfort.
- MSM to help support healthy connective tissue and joint cartilage.*
- Along with well-studied Glucosamine
- Gluten Free
I hope this advice helps support your overall joint health, avoid lingering or constant joint health, and run healthy for a lifetime!
If you want guidance with your running goals, including run/walking goals, check out my run coaching services. Also, be sure to check out my free training plans:
- Postpartum Training Plan
- After a Break Training Plan
- 5k Training Plans
- 10k Training Plans
- Half Marathon Training Plans
- Marathon Training Plans
- Strength Training Plan