Muscle pain in the hours or days after a workout is one of the more unpleasant aspects of getting fit. Not only does it cause discomfort, but it can also slow your progress down by making it difficult to exercise as often and intensively as you’d like. The official name for this pain is delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), but most exercisers will know it simply as stiffness.
The main cause of this soreness is the healing process of thousands of tiny tears in your muscles, caused during any particularly strenuous bout of exercise. Although this sounds a little dramatic, it’s perfectly normal and harmless – these microscopic tears and ruptures are the way that your muscles work to build strength into themselves in response to your workout. Even so, the discomfort is something that most people would prefer to remove from their regimen, so can anything be done?
Bring Out the Cherries
Research at the University of Vermont involved a group of volunteers drinking cherry juice during a carefully monitored week of exercise, and the results were impressive. Not only did the cherry-consuming volunteers report significantly less post-exercise pain than ones who drank a neutral juice, but measurements of muscle condition during the periods of stiffness showed cherry drinkers only lost 4% of their previous strength, compared to fully 22% in the others.
Why Does Cherry Juice Work?
Dark cherries are full of antioxidants such as anthocyanins and cyanidin, substances which work to reduce toxins in muscles, soothe inflammation, and promote faster healing. Studies suggest that dark, tart cherries are more superior in this area than many commercially available antioxidant supplements, and that they also have other health benefits, from cutting stroke risk to promoting healthy sleep.
Whether you’re a gym fanatic or an avid runner, post-exercise muscle pain can put a real damper on your fitness efforts, but there’s no need to let it cool your enthusiasm. Make a point of adding whole dark cherries or the widely available juice to your recovery routine, and severe muscle stiffness could become a thing of the past.