If you’re a workout fanatic, you know the feeling of aching muscles well. New research suggests that getting a dose of caffeine before working out could reduce sore muscles afterwards.
The ability to forgo muscle soreness was demonstrated by both coffee drinkers and non-coffee drinkers.
The small study put 25 physically fit college-age men through rigorous workouts. About half the men normally consumed little to no caffeine while the other half normally consumed the equivalent of 3 to 4 cups of coffee a day.
Researchers had the guys pedal on a stationary bike for two high-intensity, 30-minute sessions. For one session, the participants were given a caffeine dose equivalent to about 2 to 3 cups of coffee. For the other session the men go a placebo pill.
In general, guys who got the caffeine had less thigh-muscle pain than those who got the the placebo. Since the study included both regular coffee drinkers and non-drinkers, the results suggest that people may not develop a tolerance to the pain-reducing impact of caffeine.
On one occasion, the men were given a dose of caffeine equivalent to two to three cups of coffee one hour before the workout; on the other, they were given a placebo pill instead.
In general, the researchers found, the men reported less thigh-muscle pain with caffeine compared with placebo. Since there was no difference between habitual caffeine consumers and non-consumers, people may not build up a tolerance to the pain-dampening effects of caffeine.
Researchers surmise that caffeine may limit muscle pain by blocking the effects of adenosine, a chemical that’s released in response to inflammation. So if you’re about to tackle a new or tough workout, especially one that you’ve experienced muscle pain from in the past, consider drinking a shot of caffeine before you start.