Muscle aches can hinder training and competition. While the effective use of specific supplements can help athletes get back into the game, these products should be developed with caution. Tart cherries, curcumin, omega-3 fatty acids, methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), enzymes, amino acids, and CBD are popular nutritional approaches for products that help consumers minimize muscle pain.

How exercise affects muscle

Difficult training causes trauma to the muscle cells. This triggers an immune system response to repair damage and dispose of waste.1 “Tissue damage results in inflammation (to aid healing), which often results in sensitization of the swelling, stiffness, and pain receptors, resulting in pain,” said Richard Bloomer, Ph.D., Dean of the School of Health Studies and Center for Wellness and Fitness, University of Memphis. Blood supply increases, which causes immune cells to cleanse damaged muscle tissue, releasing free radicals (reactive oxygen species [ROS]) and produce pro-inflammatory cytokines that promote both damage and repair.2.3

Acute exercise can lead to increased oxidative stress and tissue inflammation, especially in untrained people, ”Bloomer said. Over time, the body adapts to recover faster, and a person has less pain after doing familiar exercise. Therefore, acute inflammation is not a major concern for most people. In fact, adding anti-inflammatory drugs to the mix to alleviate inflammation can do more harm than good by dampening workout adaptations.

However, when pain interferes with training or competition, consumers can turn to additional ingredients to help minimize pain.

Protect muscles from excessive aches

Cherry pie the juice is rich in anthocyanins, powerful antioxidants that promote blood circulation, support the functioning of blood vessels,4 and block the enzymes responsible for acute and delayed inflammation.5 In one study, two 12 oz. bottles of tart cherry juice taken daily decreased symptoms of eccentric muscle damage induced by exercise.6 In the randomized, placebo-controlled study, people consuming a placebo experienced an exercise-induced loss of strength of 22% after a workout, while those drinking tart cherry juice lost 4% of their strength. strength before training.

To read this article in full, check out the January 2020 digital magazine, Muscle quest: Developing Products to Support Lean Mass.

Marie Spano, RD, CSCS, is an expert in nutrition communication whose work has been published in popular press magazines, ezines and trade publications in the nutrition industry. She has been a guest expert on NBC, ABC and CBS Affiliates on the East Coast.

The references

1. Load SBP, Rudnicki MA. “Cellular and molecular regulation of muscle regeneration.” Physiol Reviews. 2004; 84: 209-238.

2. Hamada K et al. “Senescence of human skeletal muscle alters the local response of inflammatory cytokines to acute eccentric exercise.” FASEB J. 2005; 19 (2): 264-266.

3. Tidball JG. “Inflammatory processes in muscle damage and repair”. Am J Physiol. 2005; 288 (2): R345-R353.

4. Deley G et al. “Acute Dose of Specific Grape and Apple Polyphenols Improves Endurance Performance: A Randomized, Crossover, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study.” Nutrients. 2017; 9 (8): e917.

5. Wang H et al. Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities of anthocyanins and their aglycone, cyanidin, sour cherries. J Nat Prod. 1999; 62 (2): 294-296.

6. Connolly DA et al. “Effectiveness of a mixture of tart cherry juice in preventing symptoms of muscle damage.” ” Br J Sports Med. 2006; 40 (8): 679-683.


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