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Tart cherries aid athletic muscle recovery

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Tart cherries and athletic muscle recovery

A study shows athletes can recover faster from an intense workout with the aid of tart cherries.

Findings published in the American College of Sports Medicine’s journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise tested the effects of Montmorency cherries on muscle recovery in athletes who were asked to perform unilateral leg exercises.

In the study, researchers used the juice from the tart cherries that are commonly used in pies and preserves. The fruits are high in polyphenolic compounds including flavonoids and anthocyanins and have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties. A handful of sour cherries daily is suggested by some research to benefit arthritis sufferers and may help prevent heart disease.

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Ten trained athletes were given one ounce of the cherry juice 7 days before and 2 days performing two trials of 10 sets of 10 single leg knee extensions at 80% maximum amount of weight they could lift in one session (1RM).

Two trials were performed with a two-week interval and alternate legs were used. In the first, the athletes were given tart cherry juice and in the second a juice lower in phytonutrients.

Compared to cherry juice, muscle recovery time was 5 percent less with the lower phytonutrient juice – 90% versus 85% after 24 hours, shown by blood samples that measured creatine kinase activity (CK), nitrotyrosine, high sensitivity C reactive protein, total anti-oxidant capacity and protein carbonyls (PC) levels in the athletes.

The researchers speculate the juice reduced oxidative damage to the muscles that comes from maximum use, allowing faster recovery. The findings show tart cherries speed muscle recovery perhaps from reducing oxidative muscle damage that comes from exercise.

Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise., doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e31820e5adc
"Montmorency Cherry Juice Reduces Muscle Damage Caused By Intensive Strength Exercise"
Bowtell, Joanna L.; Sumners, D. Paul; Dyer, Amy; Fox, Patrick; Mileva, Katya N