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Recovering sports injuries with magnesium

Written by Ioannis Nikitidis, Medical Doctor, Dietitian and Nutritionist

Recovering sports injuries with magnesium

During the last decades, there has been much interest in magnesium homeostasis in athletes. Magnesium has several roles in the regulation of energy metabolism, acting as a cofactor and activator for many enzymes, and participating in calcium metabolism and in the maintenance of electrical gradients across nerve and muscle cell membranes. Magnesium is lost in sweat in concentrations that may be higher than those in the blood; therefore, magnesium deficiency is a matter of concern in athletes since they lose large amounts of sweat, especially during summer. Furthermore, magnesium deficiency is often proposed as a cause of exercise-induced muscle cramps. In some countries, including Germany, most of the sports drinks intended for athletes, contain added magnesium, even though the same product in other countries do not contain extra magnesium.  (1)

Magnesium deficiency and sports injuries

Magnesium deficiency and sports injuriesIt is not only cramps that are caused by magnesium deficiency, but back, neck and joint pain may also occur. In a 2008 study, researchers reported that participants who used magnesium, reduced their chronic lower back pain by 49%. This study highlighted the association between magnesium deficiency and chronic joint pain since magnesium deficiency causes muscle tension and spasm. (2)

Magnesium not only works to relax muscles but also draws inflammation out of muscles and tendons. When a muscle is injured it will contract and tighten to protect itself. This results to decreased mobility and increased pain during normal movement. Adequate magnesium intake contributes to the muscle’s full relaxation so that it can begin healing and you can eventually gain back its function. (3)

The importance of normal magnesium levels for optimal immune function and recovery from oxidative damage or stress in the physically active individual has recently received attention. It is proven that strenuous physical exercise induces oxidative stress or the production of reactive oxygen species. According to a study magnesium deficiency may amplify oxidative damage caused by strenuous exercise. Additionally, magnesium deficiency has been shown to induce a prooxidant/pro-inflammatory response in rodents characterized by enhanced free radical (lipid radicals and nitric oxide) production, accumulation of oxidation products and pro-oxidant metals, depletion of endogenous antioxidants, and elevated circulating inflammatory mediators. (4)

Magnesium supplementation and tissue regeneration

Magnesium supplementation and tissue regenerationIn a recently published article (2016) researchers concluded that magnesium supplementation has marked effects in protecting the DNA from oxidative damage in both rugby players and in young men with sedentary lifestyle. (5)

Furthermore, all components of connective tissue depend on magnesium. The four macromolecules that make up connective tissue are proteoglycans, glycoproteins, collagen and elastin. Elastin and collagen are fibrillar structures and magnesium serves to modulate their synthesis and degradation. Glycoproteins are involved in connective tissue healing and their function is regulated by magnesium. Proteoglycans, which allow for connective tissue to withstand compressive forces, are dependent on magnesium. The above-mentioned connection between connective tissue and magnesium, highlights the importance of this mineral in the recovery of sports injuries which are usually related to connective tissue disturbances. (6)

To sum up, magnesium supplementation leads to faster regeneration of injured tissue while reducing pain and inflammation. Additionally, according to studies, this mineral can also increase flexibility when applied topically, thus providing a preventive role to avoid injury. Furthermore, magnesium has also been shown to have an almost immediate effect in pain relief when applied directly to the injury. When combined with heat, magnesium also increases circulation and waste removal. Therefore, the use of magnesium in sports injuries is ideal for pain management, faster recovery and prevention of future injuries. (7)

Recovering sports injuries with magnesium
~ Written by Ioannis Nikitidis, Medical Doctor, Dietitian and Nutritionist








6) Thomas E. Hyde,Marianne S. Gengenbach, Conservative management of Sports Injuries. Jones and Bartlett Publishers Canada, 2nd Edition, 2007



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