Skip to content

Fitness & Exercise

Font Size

Caffeine May Ease Workout Pain

Drinking Coffee May Reduce Muscle Pain and Soreness After Workouts
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic - Medical News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Jan. 17, 2007 -- You may not want to put coffee in your sports bottle just yet, but a new study suggests drinking the equivalent of two cups before exercise may reduce postworkout muscle pain by nearly 50%.

Researchers say that's more muscle pain relief than commonly found with pain relievers like aspirin.

"A lot of times what people use for muscle pain is aspirin or ibuprofen, but caffeine seems to work better than those drugs, at least among women whose daily caffeine consumption is low," researcher Patrick O'Connor, of the department of kinesiology at the University of Georgia, Athens, says in a news release.

But caffeine's pain-relieving perks may not apply to those who regularly drink coffee and other beverages containing caffeine. Instead, researchers say caffeine appears to work best in people who don't regularly consume caffeine or exercise.

Therefore, they say, the findings may be most help to people new to exercise -- who also tend to experience the most muscle soreness.

"If you can use caffeine to reduce the pain, it may make it easier to transition from that first week into a much longer exercise program," says researcher Victor Maridakis, of the University of Georgia, in the news release.

Caffeine's Pain-Relieving Perk

In this small study, researchers studied caffeine's effects on postworkout muscle soreness in nine female college students who were not regular caffeine users and did not regularly engage in resistance training. The results appear in The Journal of Pain.

The women received tablets containing either the equivalent of two cups of coffee or a placebo 24 and 48 hours after a resistance-training session designed to produce muscle soreness.

An hour after taking the pills, the women were asked to perform two different exercises using their sore quadricep (thigh) muscles. The results showed that one hour after taking caffeine, the women experienced up to 48% less muscle pain than the placebo group.

In comparison, O'Connor says previous studies of drugs containing naproxen (the active ingredient in Aleve) produced a 30% reduction in muscle soreness, and those using aspirin showed a 25% reduction.

Researchers say more study is needed to examine caffeine's effects on muscle pain.

They recommend that people use caution when using caffeine before a workout. Too much may produce side effects like jitteriness, heart palpitations, and sleep disturbances.

"It can reduce pain," says Maridakis, "but you have to apply some common sense and not go overboard."

Healthy Living Tools

Ditch Those Inches

Set goals, tally calorie intake, track workouts and more, all via WebMD’s free Food & Fitness Planner.

Get Started

Today on WebMD

pilates instructor
15 moves that get results.
woman stretching before exercise
How and when to do it.
couple working out
Moves you can do at home.
woman exercising
Strengthen your core with these moves.
man exercising
knees to chest
Man looking at watch before workout
Overweight man sitting on park bench

Pollen counts, treatment tips, and more.

It's nothing to sneeze at.

Loading ...

Sending your email...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.


Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

pilates instructor
jogger running among flowering plants
woman walking
woman doing pushups