Runners who drank pure tart cherry juice immediately after a long run reported 23% less pain than those who drank a placebo cherry drink.
In a study of sixty healthy adults ages 18 to 50, those who drank 10.5 ounces cherry juice twice a day for seven days prior to and on the day of a long-distance relay had significantly less muscle pain following the race than those who drank another fruit juice beverage.
On a scale from 0 to 10, the runners who drank cherry juice had a 2 point lower self-reported pain level at the completion of the race, a clinically significant difference.
Researchers at the Oregon Health & Science University suggest that cherries’ post-exercise benefits are likely due to the fruit’s natural anti-inflammation power from antioxidant compounds called anthocyanins. These anthocyanins also give cherries their bright red color.
The natural anti-inflammation power of cherry juice could benefit the millions of active Americans currently taking over-the-counter pain medications to reduce muscle pain. Study authors say that although more research is needed, early finding indicate cherries may work like common medications used by runners to alleviate post-exercise inflammation.
SOURCE: Kuehl, et al, Oregon Health & Science University, presented at the American College of Sports Medicine Conference, May 2009.