Tart cherry juice plays an anti-inflammatory role that prevents excessive strain and aides muscle recovery from arduous exercise. That’s when the right ingredients are included, of course.
Tart cherries, widely known for their nutritional value, are exactly one of those ingredients.
Many studies have proven that the natural antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties from tart cherries is a safe and effective way to treat muscle pain and reduce inflammation, particularly for endurance athletes.
One such study measured whether consumption of tart cherry juice before and during strenuous exercise plays a role in reducing muscle pain and damage.
The research focused on athletes competing in Oregon’s Hood to Coast relay, a 195-mile, team-based trek from Mount Hood to Seaside, Oregon. The two-day race requires runners to negotiate a hilly course across two mountain ranges, with each runner completing approximately 14 to 19.5 miles for their team, often traversing steep climbs and descends.
Put simply, there was ample opportunity for muscle pain and damage.
The results summarized conclusively showing that runners who consumed the juice for a week prior and during the race experienced less inflammation and faster muscle strength recovery than runners who were given a placebo.
It’s important to note that both sets of runners experienced pain and inflammation during and after the race, which was widely expected given the highly taxing nature of the Hood to Coast challenge.
But the runners allocated the cherry juice reported significantly lower levels of pain than those assigned the placebo.
Why? Because tart cherries carry some of the richest anti-inflammatory content in food, including more than any other fruit. That makes them a natural and safe alternative to over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs, the extensive use of which can lead to a host of medical problems.
Studies such as these demonstrate that tart cherry juice can be a crucial piece of arsenal for athletes looking to protect and refuel their muscles. Yet, it also highlights the value of consuming it pre-workout as a means of padding the muscles from post-exercise soreness.
Remember, the Hood to Coast participants commenced their intake of tart cherry juice, at two 12-ounce doses a day, a week before the race. The pre-race consumption of the juice clearly assisted in faster recovery of muscle strength and reduced inflammation.
As such, along with other methods of getting the body ready for strenuous workouts, including tart cherries in a diet can play an equally important preparatory role. It’s a dual-pronged solution that is as much about fueling, as it is refueling.
If you could predict the onset of a headache, reaching for some aspirin would be a way of dealing with the impending pain. Tart cherries provide the same opportunity to deal with a different kind of pain, the only difference being that they are a natural and healthier solution.
The evidence is there. Tart cherries are a nutritional antioxidant that limit muscle damage and strength loss caused by strenuous exercise.
So, whenever considering a natural energy drink to lift your athletic performance, limit muscle damage and aid recovery, make sure that it’s jam-packed with the juice from these little red treasures.
Combine that with beet juice, and you’ll be equipped to perform at your peak.
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