A Fruity Way to Relieve Muscle Pain
By Dietitian, Juliette Kellow BSc RD
Starting a new fitness plan after being inactive for a long period of time might help to boost weight loss, but as most new exercisers know, you can usually expect several aches and pains after your first few sessions.
A small new study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine has found a potentially natural – and tasty – way to relieve sore muscles. And that’s to drink cherry juice!
In the study, 14 volunteers were asked to drink either fresh cherry juice blended with apple juice for three days before exercising and for four days after, or to drink a ‘dummy’ drink that didn’t contain cherry juice. The exercise involved flexing and tensing one arm 20 times.
The researchers measured muscle tenderness and strength and volunteers rated their own muscle soreness on a scale of 1 to 10 on each of the days before and after the exercise. The whole process was repeated two weeks later, with those who had taken the cherry juice previously now taking the dummy drink and vice versa.
Amazingly, the loss in muscle strength dropped by 22 percent in the group taking the dummy drink, but by only 4 percent in those having the cherry juice. The cherry juice drinkers also reported significantly less pain than the dummy drinkers. Furthermore, pain peaked at 24 hours after exercising in those drinking the cherry juice, but continued to increase for 48 hours in the dummy drinkers.
This is certainly an interesting piece of research on the possible benefits of consuming cherry juice, but the results need to be interpreted carefully.
Firstly, this is only a very small study and more research needs to be carried out on a larger number of volunteers before these findings can be confirmed.
Secondly, it’s unclear whether it was actually the cherry juice alone that resulted in these findings – the apple juice it was mixed with could in fact, have some impact on the findings.
It would also be interesting to carry out more research to identify whether different juices such as orange juice, cranberry juice, grape juice or grapefruit juice give similar results.
Ready-prepared cherry juice isn’t widely available in the UK, so you’ll need to make your own by juicing fresh cherries if you want to test this theory. Alternatively, you could try eating them rather than juicing them – or even try a different fruit juice. Cranberries contain many similar antioxidants to cherries and so may be worth trying.
Whatever you decide to try, remember to count the calories. After all, you don’t want to replace all those calories you’ve burnt off through exercise by drinking vast quantities of juice!
You can keep a food and exercise diary to keep you on track with a healthy lifestyle. Try it free for 24 hours.