Feel the Post-Workout Burn -- Less
"Feeling the burn" after a workout is really your body recovering from the stress and strain of exercise. It's a process that might get a boost from a new supplement.
If your fitness routines have ever run a bit too long, or
you've worked out a little too hard, you know the misery of post-workout pain.
Anywhere from several hours to several days later you still might feel the
fitness "burn", not to mention fatigue.
Now researchers say they have a clue as to why - and a new
natural supplement promises to make a difference.
Indeed, the latest buzz in the fitness universe is "heat
shock proteins" (HSP) - a biochemical reaction that some say figures
heavily into your body's ability to recover from stress and strain.
Our Body Knows Best
"Our body is our own best defense against illness because
it does have the power to cure itself -and there is some evidence to show that
heat shock proteins might be one way the body counteracts the structural
breakdown of protein," says Robert Gotlin, DO, director of Orthopedics and
Sports Rehabilitation at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York.
As he explains, HSP reside in the body at a low but constant
level - almost dormant, until something stirs their release. That something,
says Gotlin, is stress - particularly a heavy workout.
"As your body endures the stress it sends out biochemical
signals that activate the heat stress proteins, which are then mobilized - so
blood levels rise," Gotlin tells WebMD. It is that elevation, he says, that
some researchers believe might play a role in the fitness recovery process, and
in helping to keep muscles strong.
Indeed, in studies on 11 male athletes presented earlier this
year at the annual meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM),
researchers from Yokohama City University in Japan revealed that increasing
muscle temperature to 40-42 degrees Celsius up to 24 hours before strenuous
exercise helps sustain muscle strength, even after that temperature returns to
normal. They concluded that the mechanism behind the protective effect of the
heat was the subsequent rise in heat shock proteins.
Moreover, in research published in the journal Medicine and
Science in Sports and Exercise in 2000, doctors from the University of
Tuebingen, in Germany, compared the HSP levels of 12 well-trained athletes
before and after a run, to 12 athletes who rested. The result: The athletes had
much higher levels of HSP after the race - a finding researchers believe helped
them maintain their fitness and strength even after the run was over.
Rising To The Challenge
While it's clear that exercise causes HSP to rise, studies show
the natural activation process can take three hours or more after the stress
begins. Now, however, a new fitness supplement called PrePair claims to give
HSP a gentle nudge, causing levels to rise as soon as 15 minutes after a
workout starts. And it does so using an extract made from the skin of the
prickly pear cactus fruit.