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Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness

October 26, 2012 Written by JP       [Font too small?]

Many health experts, myself included, recommend exercising a minimum of several times a week. This “prescription” is challenging enough due to various factors ranging from lack of motivation to time constraints. But, some committed exercisers have an additional hurdle to overcome: DOMS or delayed onset muscle soreness.

In certain cases, you can do all the right things (eat well, hydrate and rest) and still experience persistent muscle pain for hours and even days after you exercise. There are numerous alternative and conventional therapies that may provide symptomatic relief, including acupuncture, hydrotherapy and massage. However, in today’s column I’m going to focus on several dietary supplements which may also be of value for anyone experiencing DOMS.

Research indicates that drinking a milk-based protein powder immediately after working out is “beneficial in attenuating decreases in muscle performance and increases in active DOMS”. Some studies have combined milk protein with carbohydrates. Please note that the latter is not necessary to hasten exercise recovery and reduce muscle aches. Also, those who are dairy intolerant or vegans can experiment using plant sourced protein powders with added branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs). To the best of my knowledge, there is no solid research on the use of plant protein powder to mitigate DOMS. That said, there is some data suggesting that the use of supplemental BCAAs (isoleucine, leucine and valine) limits muscle damage and soreness.

If protein shakes aren’t your thing or you require additional relief, you might consider three evidence based supplements: 1) pomegranate extract; 2) black tea extract; 3) curcumin. Ellagitannins, a class of phytochemicals present in pomegranates, have been shown to enhance physical performance and recovery after eccentric exercises in two recent studies. A black tea extract, standardized for a high concentration of theaflavins, likewise decreased DOMS and additionally reduced cortisol (a stress hormone) and oxidative stress in college aged weight lifters. Finally, curcumin, a component of the spice turmeric, not only eases exercise induced muscle pain, but also relieves arthritic discomfort. All three of these food based supplements are generally regarded as safe and may even confer a host of cardiovascular and neurological “side benefits”.

Click on the following links to learn more about the studies referenced in today’s column:

Study 1 - Effect of Milk-Based Carbohydrate-Protein Supplement Timing on (link)

Study 2 - Acute Milk-Based Protein–CHO Supplementation Attenuates Exercise(link)

Study 3 - Effects of Dietary Carbohydrate on Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (link)

Study 4 - Branched-Chain Amino Acid Supplementation Before Squat Exercise (link)

Study 5 - BCAA Supplementation Does Not Enhance Athletic Performance but(link)

Study 6 – The Effect of Pomegranate Juice Supplementation on Strength (link)

Study 7 – Ellagitannin Consumption Improves Strength Recovery 2-3 d After (link)

Study 8 - The Effects of Theaflavin-Enriched Black Tea Extract on Muscle (link)

Study 9 – BounceBack™ Capsules for Reduction of DOMS After Eccentric (link)

Study 10 - Efficacy and Safety of Meriva®, a Curcumin-Phosphatidylcholine (link)

Branched-Chain Amino Acids May Reduce DOMS

Source: J Nutr. 2006 Feb;136(2):529S-532S. (link)

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Posted in Alternative Therapies, Exercise, Nutritional Supplements

3 Comments to “Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness”

  1. rob Says:

    Funny im reading this after had having and intense workout-out, a few hours ago, and can feel a bit of soreness, lol. I use BCAAs some of the time, some times mixed mixed with whey sometimes on its own, also use a tumeric supplement almost daily with food. These help but if i dont eat well afterwards and dont get a goods night sleep ill for sure have some soreness next day.

  2. JP Says:

    Hi Rob,

    It sounds like you’re on the right track! :-)

    Be well!


  3. JP Says:

    Update: Collagen supplement supports exercise recovery …


    Effects of BioCell Collagen® on connective tissue protection and functional recovery from exercise in healthy adults: a pilot study

    Background: The extracellular matrix (ECM) of muscle, tendon, and ligament is sensitive to exercise-induced mechanical stimuli. Exercise-induced muscle damage is associated with not only myofibrillar injury, but also the involvement of connective tissue elements such as collagen, proteoglycans (PG), tendon and ligament. However, little is known about the impact of nutritional agents and metabolic optimization for enhancing adaptation and recovery of the connective tissue elements that support musculoskeletal function. BioCell Collagen® (BCC) is a patented hydrolyzed chicken sternal cartilage extract that contains a naturally-occurring matrix of hydrolyzed collagen type II, and low molecular weight glycosaminoglycans such as chondroitin sulfate and hyaluronic acid. The purpose of this pilot study was to determine the potential impact of daily supplementation with BCC on functional indices and molecular biomarkers of recovery from intense exercise, and identify effect sizes on various outcome measures.

    Methods: Eight healthy, recreationally active subjects (29.3 ± 9.2 y, 173.1 ± 8.2 cm, 77.3 ± 13.5 kg) volunteered to participate in this study and were randomized in a double-blind, placebo-controlled fashion to ingest either 3 g of placebo or BioCell Collagen® daily over a 6-week period prior to an upper body muscle-damaging resistance exercise challenge (UBC) on day 43, and a re-challenge on day 46. At the end of the 6-week supplementation period, participants completed a UBC consisting of 8 sets of barbell bench press at 75% of body weight load to exhaustion with a 4/0/X repetition tempo and 90 seconds rest between sets; the UBC exercise challenge was repeated 72 hours later to assess recovery of function. Consent to publish the results was obtained from all participants.

    Results: Daily intake of BCC for 6-weeks attenuated an increase in serum markers for muscle tissue damage in response to bench press exercise, creatine kinase (CK), lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), and C-reactive protein (CRP). Change in CK: +20 U/L (BCC) vs. +4726 U/L (placebo); change in LDH: -3.5 U/L (BCC) vs. +82.9 U/L (placebo); change in CRP: +0.07 mg/L (BCC) vs. +0.7 mg/L (placebo). In terms of performance, the decrement in bench press repetitions to failure was only 49% (day 43) and 43% (day 46) in the BCC group vs. 60% (day 43) and 55% (day 46) in the placebo group.

    Conclusion: The preliminary data of this proof-of-concept study suggests that daily intake of BCC for 6 weeks may favorably impact key biochemical markers of connective and skeletal muscle tissue damage and enhance stress resilience following intense resistance exercise. Supplementation was well tolerated and did not adversely affect markers of health or side effect profiles.

    Be well!


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