You may have experienced this in the past…waking up after a hard workout or a new workout that you’ve never done before and it feels like your body got hit by a Mack Truck. Even the most minute movements are accompanied with excruciating pain and you go through the day wincing, groaning and whining. And the worst part, just when you thought your body couldn’t get anymore sore…the next day it gets even worse!!
Ibuprofen to the rescue…right? Well, ibuprofen is fine once in a while and it will help reduce the muscle pain and soreness, if you’re going through a particularly bad episode of DOMS (delayed onset of muscle soreness) but if you’re like me and hate to take any medications, there is a natural remedy that’s been proven to be effective in helping you reduce soreness.
Believe it or not studies have found that consuming tart cherries after a strenuous workout helps reduce muscle soreness, without the nasty side effects of NSAIDS (ibuprofen). (Note: Even if you can tolerate NSAIDS, frequent use of NSAIDS have shown to hinder muscle growth…a lose-lose situation if you ask me)
One reason why tart cherries are so effective in reducing muscle soreness is that it has a high anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory content. The anti-inflammatory substance found in the peel of tart (montmorency) cherries contain the same active enzyme as that found in OTC anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen. Another added benefit is that tart cherries also help boost melatonin levels in your body, which help you sleep better and hence recovery faster as well.
Most studies done had participants drink tart cherry in juice form, anywhere from 8 – 24 ounces a day depending on the activity. However, since tart cherry juice is high in sugar – about 32 g of carbs (24 g of sugar) per 8 ounce – I would recommend that you only consume tart cherry juice after you workout, this way your glycogen levels are low and the sugar from the juice will get used to replenish your glycogen storage instead of being converted to fat. You can even mix the juice with your favorite whey protein along with some water or ice to make a great post workout recovery drink as well. If you’re restricting your carb intake, you can reduce it to 4 ounces instead as part of your post workout drink.
It’s important to know that a large part of getting lean and fit, is being able to manage your muscle soreness and recovery. Being too sore to workout is an easy way to derail you off your fitness goals and get discouraged. But you don’t need to resort to popping ibuprofen just to mask the pain and risk adverse health effects. The process of getting in better shape should be done without having to compromise your health, so before you pop an Ibuprofen, give tart cherries a try. Just keep in mind that it’s not a drug, so you won’t get the kind of relief that you may be expecting, but you’ll be promoting natural anti-inflammatory processes in your body that will help you much more in the long run.
I hope this was helpful!
In Health and Fitness,
The Diamond Guru