Caffeine May Ease the 'Ouch' of Exercise
Caffeine Jolt May Prevent Exercise-Induced Muscle Pain
Sept. 17, 2003 -- Your morning cup of coffee may do more than
give you a jolt to get you going, it may also make your workout less
A new study suggests that caffeine reduces exercise-induced
muscle pain. Researchers say pain-relieving effects of caffeine may actually
help explain why caffeine has been shown to improve endurance.
Researchers say the mechanisms behind what causes muscle pain
aren't clearly understood because different tissues in the body can trigger
different types of pain, depending on the individual.
"Muscle contractions produce a host of biochemicals that
can stimulate pain," says researcher Patrick O'Connor, professor of
exercise science at the University of Georgia, in a news release.
Caffeine Blunts Muscle Pain
In this study, researchers monitored 16 young men as they rode
a stationary bicycle for 30 minutes on two separate days. The intensity of the
exercise was the same on both days and was designed to be strenuous and induce
On each day, the participants took either a caffeine pill or
placebo pill one hour before the exercise session.
The study showed that the riders reported substantially less
pain in their thigh muscles after taking the caffeine pill than when they took
But researchers say the effects of caffeine on reducing muscle
pain were less significant among heavy caffeine users because the caffeine had
altered their pain receptors.
The results appear in the August issue of the Journal of
But there are still more questions that need answering.
Researcher Robert Motl, assistant professor of kinesiology at University of
Illinois says, "The next step is to learn how caffeine helps people feel
less muscle pain during exercise. We don't know yet whether the caffeine is
acting on muscles or the brain."