By: Dr. Eeks
What’s a good natural cure for muscle pain? Cherry Juice! If it’s easier for you guys, I made a video about it on my Instagram TV channel here. Feel free to follow me there. I do respond to all the comments.
I work out a lot and like to keep my workouts fun and varied. I run approximately 4 times a week, swim 2 times/ week, practice Krav Maga, go to NIA classes, play soccer, do sprint and interval training 3 times/ week and do resistance training about 5 times/ week. I played soccer and ran on the marathon team for my college, and with that came a lot of injuries. Mostly ankle sprains, but I once fell during practice and dislocated my left shoulder. I popped it back into place, but it’s never been the same since. It affects my neck and upper back, and though it’s a lot better than it was, sometimes when I lift hard, I get a lot of pain in my upper back and neck. I love my long-distance runs, and running is my antidepressant, but I have flat feet. I wear arch supports, but even still, I feel pain after a long run. Some pain should be expected after a tough workout, which is why recovery is so important. That said, you don’t want the pain to discourage you or sideline you for too long. You don’t want it to interfere with your normal daily activities or your sleep. This is why I started drinking organic, tart cherry juice after workouts. And it’s as close to a “natural” cure for muscle pain as you’ll get.
Why do we feel pain after a hard workout? For some, this is obvious, but it has to do the connection between inflammation and pain. Hard workouts can cause muscle damage, which stimulates a local inflammatory response that causes chemicals in our body to respond to the site of inflammation. These chemicals trigger a cascade of inflammatory activity, including increased blood flow, the attraction of neutrophils ( inflammatory cells) and a series of reactions that lead to the production of free radicals. Without getting too technical, free radicals can cause damage throughout the body and oxidative stress. Antioxidants can neutralize free radicals, thereby making them more stable and less destructive. Cherry juice is known to have high levels of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties that may help reduce this type of muscle pain.
A lot of foods are high in antioxidants, so why am I writing about cherry juice as a natural cure for muscle pain? Because, although a lot of foods have antioxidants and although anecdotes are great, the efficacy for cherry juice reducing muscle pain after tough workouts has been studied in at least two randomized, placebo-controlled trials (RCTs). And there are other, separate randomized trials showing the health benefits of cherries in general. If you’re new to my blog, or my Instagram page, you’ll know that I tout the importance of evidence-based tips. Wellness is full of anecdotes, and while there is nothing innately wrong with anecdotes, they should be tested in a controlled environment. The whole point of the scientific method is to test an observed or hypothetical association in a controlled environment to ensure that the association is valid. That said, one RCT showed that cherry juice consumption significantly reduced muscle pain in long-distance runners. After competing in a long-distance race, the runners who drank cherry juice had significantly less pain. Another RCT showed that drinking cherry juice after working out significantly reduced pain and strength loss. While everyone who tries cherry juice as a natural cure for muscle pain may experience different results, it’s safe to try. It’s not a supplement that may or may not contain what it says it contains, it’s cherries!
How much should you drink? Again, I try to base this on what the literature says. The amount may vary from study to study, but I drink 12 fluid 0z of unsweetened, tart cherry juice twice a day. That’s 1.5 cups in the morning and 1.5 cups at night. Do I do this every day? No. I do it during the weeks when I know I’m going to have tougher workouts. Sometimes I have weeks where yoga and swimming dominate, and I hold off on the cherry juice.
Anyhow, thanks for reading, and I hope you find this tip useful. There are a bunch of other tips on my blog and many more will be added in the near future.
Also, consider checking out my health podcast Causes or Cures on which I feature doctors and experts and folks with compelling personal stories related to timely health topics. I record it from my living room, here in New York City, and it’s been a blast. Not only do I get to feature fabulous, brilliant people, but I’ve learned a lot myself. Sometimes my dog barks…but not often. 😉
Also, my parody on the “sleazy” side of the wellness industry is funny (for the most part), short (ridiculously short) and available on Amazon and a few other places to read. It’s called: Yours in Wellness, Krystal Heeling, Letters from the Wellness Industry. You can also find the audiobook from several retailers and listen to it. In all honesty, I think the audiobook is better than the book. The narrator just did such a fantastic job with it, I thought it sounded more like a theatrical performance than a book. Hope you guys check it out and if you can, leave a review. It was such a fun project for me to do.
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