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A Natural Solution for Athletes


Business lawyer Joe Durkee, 29, runs two or three long-distance competitions a month for the Red Lizards, a Portland athletic club

Business lawyer Joe Durkee, 29, runs two or three long-distance competitions a month for the Red Lizards, a Portland athletic club. Marathons and triathlons are his specialty.

Durkee has been at it for years and routinely trains hard, including a minimum of 13 kilometres a day running in a hilly urban park. The pounding creates a chronic soreness in his feet. Runners commonly get this condition, called plantar fasciitis.

"Originally, I used to ice my feet but the effect would not last long," Durkee explains.

Then Durkee discovered methyl-sulfonyl-methane (MSM). Three times a week he soaks his feet in a foot bath of warm water with about 60 grams of dissolved MSM for 15 to 20 minutes. "It eliminates the pain quite effectively and gives a lasting effect," he says.

This nutritional supplement is derived from natural organic sulfur. It's been found to have tremendous pain-relieving benefits for many ailments.

Clinical studies have shown that it alleviates pain, reduces stiffness and swelling and improves joint flexibility. In addition to decreasing inflammation, MSM is also known to promote blood flow, which helps the healing process, and to reduce painful muscle spasm.

This nonmetallic organic sulfur compound is found in our bodies as well as in many common beverages and foods such as milk and green vegetables. It is one of the least toxic substances in biology, similar in toxicity to water. Sulfur itself has a long history as a natural therapeutic substance. For centuries, sulfur-rich hot springs in Europe and Asia have been widely sought after for their healing properties.

MSM is available in capsules that can be taken with meals or in crystal form for mixing with drinks. It can also be purchased as a cream, lotion or gel and applied directly to the skin.

Experience shows that this supplement is often so effective for pain relief that doctors are able to lower the dosage of medication they prescribe for patients. [Editor] The end result is relief with fewer or no side effects, frequently caused by prescription pain medications.

This breakthrough remedy for people with osteoarthritis extends beyond the treatment of chronic illnesses. In fact, a growing body of clinical experience indicates its benefits for acute athletic injuries, such as muscle strains and sprains, or like the plantar fasciitis described in the introduction to this article.

Antidote for Athletes

While physical exertion and athletic activity are beneficial for overall health and well-being, this exertion can also be punishing to certain parts of our anatomy. Sports and exercise can cause real harm to muscles, tendons, ligaments, and bones when we pull, jump, kick, lift, or throw hard enough. Repeated trauma to certain areas, the kind that is caused by years of running or playing a rigorous game, has the potential to develop into major injuries.

Apart from serious injury, there is the discomfort, and sometimes severe soreness, associated with physical over-exertion. A no-holds-barred effort results in what is often called delayed-onset muscle soreness. It strikes 24 to 48 hours after the activity and is caused by micro-trauma to the connective tissue that supports muscles and organs.

In recent years, athletes and fitness enthusiasts have begun to rely on these supplements to reduce the pain, soreness and inflammation associated with injuries, strained or cramped muscles and over-extended joints. Many use MSM in ointment form to alleviate the pain of sprained ankles, elbows and shoulders; strained muscles and ligaments; and tendon injuries.

The recent popularity of MSM prompted me to conduct a clinical study to validate the anecdotal claims made by athletes who use the nutritional supplement to relieve sports injuries.

The results were impressive. Of the 24 patients involved in the study, those taking MSM had a significant level of recovery (58.3 percent) compared to those on placebo (33.3 percent). In addition, patients on MSM had 40 per cent fewer office visits before recovery.

Each patient involved in the study suffered from acute injuries sustained during athletic activity. Each was treated with similar therapy and each received unmarked capsules of either a placebo or MSM. Four of the patients taking the MSM reported the disappearance of symptoms after taking the capsules for a very short period of time.

In addition to the positive health factors, the economic advantages of MSM illustrated by this study can't be ignored. The compound itself is inexpensive and easy to use. In addition, the 40 percent reduction in office visits for those on MSM versus the placebo make it an invaluable, cost-effective treatment for sports injuries.



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Matthew Kadey, MSc, RDMatthew Kadey, MSc, RD