It’s no secret that we’re fans of pushing ourselves out of our comfort zones here, and encouraging you to do the same. After all, the beginning of change tends to lie at our own edges, just waiting for us to have the courage to meet it.
However, pushing yourself (especially physically) also comes with the equal necessity of repair and recovery. Sometimes we can get in “hustle hustle, grind grind” mode so deeply that we forget that our bodies need certain things to, well … support that grind!
One natural compound we’ve found that works wonders in the essential recovery department is MSM (methylsulfonylmethane), also sometimes referred to as the “miracle supplement.”
If you’re finding that you’re feeling more stiffness than usual after workouts, either in your joints or muscles, or that your energy levels have been less than ideal, MSM is something you might want to check out, either as a supplement or in your diet!
What Is MSM? + Its Benefits
MSM (methylsulfonylmethane) is a sulfur compound that is naturally present in the earth and in some of the foods we eat. It is a critical nutrient for many important processes in your body, including building and repairing DNA, producing and repairing proteins, helping your body metabolize foods, and protecting your cells from damage. It is also one of the three most abundant minerals in your body, highlighting its widespread role.
Benefits of MSM for Recovery
As athletes and avid gym-goers, our joint and connective tissues are constantly under pressure, which is why we can sometimes experience periods of extra joint stiffness, soreness, and inflammation. MSM has shown in several studies to help reduce the joint degeneration (aka: reduces wear and tear) and joint inflammation that can cause this, potentially resulting in less pain and stiffness. Not to mention, in the long term, getting adequate MSM can also help preserve cartilage. We tend not to think too much about what our activity levels will be like when we’re older, but ensuring we’re protecting the parts of our bodies that experience tons of pressure and friction now can potentially ensure we’re still able to go hard in the future!
Also, inflammation isn’t uncommon to experience post-intense-workouts, since it’s technically part of the natural healing process. However, if our training is more difficult or more frequent than usual, we can easily experience heightened soreness and pain due to new muscle fiber tears, small pulls, or friction on a connective tissue we haven’t utilized much before, which could increased inflammation levels.
MSM can also help with this, as it has been shown to help significantly reduce inflammation. Studies show it does this by inhibiting certain inflammatory compounds and proteins linked to systemic inflammation.
To add icing to the cake, MSM also plays a role in increasing our levels of glutathione, one of the most potent antioxidants our bodies produce! Glutathione is a beast when it comes to protecting our bodies from DNA-damaging free radicals (which, major P.S.: also results in huge anti-aging benefits and less damage to our tissues).
One study found that 18 men who were taking 50 mg of MSM powder per kg of body weight for 10 days experienced significantly reduced exercise-induced muscle damage and increased antioxidant activity following an 8.7 mile run, showing the power behind MSM for preventing damage.
Along with this, women training for a half marathon also experienced less muscle and joint pain during their training leading up to the event. So, if you’re starting a new regime or preparing to go hard, MSM can also be a handy tool to help mitigate pain before it starts!
Sources of MSM
MSM can be found in decent amounts in some natural foods, such as:
• Tea and coffee
• Swiss chard
• Alfalfa sprouts
• Brussels sprouts
• Chicken, turkey, and eggs
However, the thing with MSM (and one of the reasons many people choose to supplement) is that cooking can easily degrade it … meaning you might be getting less than you think from food if you’re not eating many raw veggies.
Thankfully, supplementing with quality MSM is relatively affordable. The key is to start with a lower dosage (even a half capsule of the manufacturer’s recommended dose) as MSM can stimulate a detox response. This is great and many, many people have no symptoms at all (MSM is very safe), yet some may experience things like skin breakouts due to toxic waste being pushed out of your cells. If this happens, simply reduce your dosage and build up slowly!