If you’re like me and are active but can’t stand achy muscles during physical activity, you might be delighted to know that that extra cup of joe may just do the trick. In a recent study published in the April issue of International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, researchers concluded that downing a cup of coffee before an intense workout reduces exercise related pain.
Competitive athletes regularly gulp a cup of coffee before competitions because they feel that caffeinated buzz gives them an extra edge. The researchers who conducted the study found that may be the case because caffeine lessens muscular discomfort felt during intense exercise. The 25 subjects who participated in the experiment were given a pill containing the equivalent of two or three cups of coffee and a placebo (sugar pill) one hour prior to engaging in an intense 30 minute cardio session. The participants reported feeling less pain in their leg muscles during the caffeine assisted session than with the placebo. What researchers found to be the most interesting is that caffeine tolerance had no effect on the study, that is, people who regularly drink coffee still get the pain reducing benefits of caffeine. Source
Don’t expect to see coffee mugs replacing water bottles at the gym but this is great news for those of us who want to reduce pain during exercise but increase athletic performance. I did a mini experiment of my own to test the results of this study. Since the sun is out a little longer these days I have been able to go on my intense two and a half hour run/hike after work. For the last two days I chugged down some espresso before the big workout and after. I actually cut my time by fifteen minutes and had enough energy to go further. The usual muscle achiness I feel during the run and the soreness I feel later on in the day never seemed to show up. Now, I’m no scientist so I’m sure my results aren’t as accurate as they should be however I think I’ll be drinking a cup of coffee before any intense workouts.