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Joint Health FTW

When most of us think about physical maladies related to gaming, we normally think of the ramifications on eyesight or issues such as de Quervain’s tenosynovitis that affect the thumb and wrist. The wrists and hands (especially the thumb joints) are also susceptible to the same types of overuse injuries that can lead to osteoarthritis. However, e-sports, like any other job or activity that involves prolonged sitting in one position, can also lead to inflammation in the soft tissue surrounding the hips and knees, leading to joint stiffness and pain. Spending excessive time in a stationary seated position can eventually result in a shortening of muscles, tendons and ligaments surrounding the joints, restricting movement, and causing additional discomfort and stiffness.

This is a prime opportunity for formulators of products targeted for joint and connective tissue support to expand to include products especially targeted at gamers and e-sports participants. It is important to keep in mind that gamers are usually not regular consumers of multiple nutritional supplements. However, energy drinks and cognitive enhancement products do have appeal to them. Therefore, a product in liquid format containing joint support and inflammation-modulating ingredients along with select energy or cognitive-supporting nutrients might be desirable to many e-sports enthusiasts. A multi-purpose product that also contains eye-supporting carotenoids could add more appeal to the product. Combining joint health ingredients into formulations of products that gamers are already using decreases the need for much additional education and marketing and will more likely appeal to this demographic.

Research into the physical and psychological effects of participation in esports has yet to catch up with the tremendous growth in this new type of athleticism. Observational studies and anecdotal evidence seem to point to both physical and psychological ramifications of regular gaming. One study conducted in 2020 delved into various dilemmas facing the e-sports industry and discussed areas where research should be undertaken to accurately determine where the risks are and what steps might be taken to mediate potential negative effects on participants’ health. (1) The authors pointed out that there is a real need for “mechanistic studies that seek to determine the mechanism(s) of injuries associated with repetitive joint movements or sustained sedentary time during gaming”.

Limited reports and clinical observations point to an increased risk of repetitive injury on joints in the hands and wrists, along with an increased risk of joint injury in the hips, knees and feet due to prolonged sedentary seated positions. 

Age-related joint support generally centers around ways to reduce pain and stiffness associated with degradation of joint cartilage from overuse or the long-term effect of persistent inflammation after injury. The target tissues for these types of support products are generally the knees, hips, and shoulders. In contrast, support for gamers involves protection of the joints in the hands as well as the knees and hips. Joint maladies due to sedentary behavior are ordinarily attributed to obesity, which puts a different type of stress on joint tissue, enhanced by fat-triggered inflammation in the surrounding tissue. (2) Dealing with the inflammation is key to successful mediation regardless of the cause.

Stratum Nutrition offers a premier joint health ingredient with attributes that make it an ideal ingredient for supporting joint health in e-sports athletes. NEM® brand eggshell membrane has been extensively studied for its benefits in reducing excessive inflammation in the joints. NEM also helps protect joint cartilage from degradation resulting from exercise.

NEM has been clinically researched in individuals with pre-existing joint conditions as well as in healthy individuals challenged by exercise. NEM’s unique attributes come from its natural content of collagen and other beneficial proteins, peptides, and amino acids critical to healthy joints and connective tissue. NEM also contains several glycosaminoglycans such as chondroitin sulfate and hyaluronic acid that are critical support nutrients, not only in joint cartilage, but in the surrounding soft tissue.

NEM’s anti-inflammatory attributes could be particularly beneficial for gamers, both for decreasing pain in the joints in the hands from overuse (and misuse) and for reducing the inflammation in the hips, knees and feet arising from prolonged sitting. Though clinical studies specifically targeting e-gamers have not been conducted, NEM has been shown to be effective in reducing joint pain and stiffness while protecting joint cartilage in both healthy, exercising individuals and those with preexisting joint complaints. (3, 4, & 5) The research on NEM extends to mechanism of action studies that have investigated its effects on numerous inflammatory mediators. NEM has been shown to reduce proliferation of multiple pro-inflammatory substances (cytokines and chemokines), especially those that are prevalent around joint tissue. (6, 7, & 8) Of equal importance is that NEM does not detrimentally effect levels of the body’s production of anti-inflammatory substances. (8)

Most e-gamers who are younger and in very good health might not be easily swayed to purchase an additional supplement, unless they have already experienced some joint pain or stiffness that might impact their performance, especially if they are competitive players. One of the other benefits of NEM is its suitability in formulating with other ingredients, as it does not interfere with absorption or metabolism of other active ingredients. Therefore, it could ideally be added to a general formulation targeting e-sports, especially one in a shake-style beverage or food-bar format that supports several aspects of health that are of interest to e-gamers. The researched dose of NEM is 500 mg, which would not be excessive as part of a conventional food product containing other actives. The flavor of NEM is bland and neutral, so it would not impact a flavor profile in these types of products. For individuals who are already experiencing joint stiffness or pain because of gaming, NEM could be marketed as a standalone product in capsule, chewable, or tablet format.

 

References:

Yin, K., Zi, Y., Zhuang, W., Gao, Y., Tong, Y., Song, L., & Liu, Y. (2020) Linking esports to health risks and benefits: Current knowledge and future research needs. Journal of Sport and Health Science, 9, 485-488.

Ellulu, M.S., Patimah, I., Khaza’ai, H., Rahmat, A., & Abed, Y. (2017) Obesity and inflammation: the linking mechanism and the complications. Archives of Medical Science:AMS, 13(4), 851-863.

Ruff, K.J., Theodosakis, J., Morrison, D., Duncan, S.A., Back, M., & Aydogan, C. (2018) Beneficial effects of natural eggshell membrane versus placebo in exercise-induced joint pain, stiffness, and cartilage turnover in healthy, postmenopausal women. Clinical Interventions in Aging, 13, 285-295.

Eskiyurt, N., Saridoğan, M., Senel, K., Günaydin, R., Erdal, A., Özyiğit, E., Akarırmak, Ü., Faruk, Ö., Şendur, O.F., Barut, K., Akyüz, G. Özsoy, T., Tuncer, T., Karataş, Ö., İrdesel, J., Ketenci, A., & Aydogan, C. (2019) Efficacy and safety of natural eggshell membrane (NEM®) in patients with grade 2/3 knee osteoarthritis: A multi-center, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, single-crossover clinical study. Journal of Arthritis, 8(4), 10000285.

Ruff, K.J., Winkler, A., Jackson, R.W., DeVore, D.P., & Ritz, B.W. (2009) Eggshell membrane in the treatment of pain and stiffness from osteoarthritis of the knee: A randomized, multicenter, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical study. Clinical Rheumatology, 28, 907-914.

Wedekind, K.J., Ruff, K.J., Atwell, C.A., Evans, J.L., & Bendele, A.M. (2016) Beneficial effects of natural eggshell membrane (NEM) on multiple indices of arthritis in collagen-induced arthritic rats. Modern Rheumatology, 27(5), 838-848.

Sim, B.Y., Bak, J.W., Lee, H.J., Jun, J.A., Choi, H.J., Kwon, C.J., Kim, H.Y., Ruff, K.J., Brandt, K., & Kim, D.H. (2015) Effects of natural eggshell membrane (NEM) on monosodium iodoacetate-induced arthritis in rats. Journal of Nutrition and Health, 48(4), 310-318.

Ruff, K.J. and DeVore, D.P. (2014) Reduction of pro-inflammatory cytokines in rats following 7-day oral supplementation with a proprietary eggshell membrane-derived product. Modern Research in Inflammation, 3(1), 19-25.