Sore No More?
How do exercisers' nutrient choices affect exercise recovery?
By Kristine Clark, PhD, RD, FACSM
ost personal trainers have at one time or another heard clients complain of muscle soreness after a workout. Sometimes clients even use this soreness as an excuse to avoid training for extended periods. Can anything be done to prevent or lessen this soreness--and thus keep clients exercising? According to many sports medicine researchers, specific nutrients might play a role. The foods your clients eat--and the supplements they take--before and after workouts may affect the degree of muscle soreness they experience.
The Theory Behind the Research Muscle soreness is a mystery, according to Chip Harrison, head strength coach at Pennsylvania State University. "Every personal trainer can predict that muscle soreness will probably occur if someone has had a [long] break from exercise . . . or if the intensity of the exercise exceeds normal," he says. But why would a typical endurance or resistance training session result in soreness? "That's the mysterious part," Harrison says. Although muscle soreness remains a mystery to a certain degree, many experts believe there may be a relationship between soreness and fatigue. Since fatigue is strongly linked to appropriate nourishment prior to exercise, several researchers have investigated the relationships among food, nutrients, muscle soreness and time to recovery. Research into these issues was plentiful at the 2003 Annual Meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM).
IDEA PERSONAL TRAINER
SEPTEMBER | 2003
The Macronutrients: Carbohydrate and Protein Carbohydrate. At the ACSM meeting, researchers from the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom presented a paper on the effect of diet on symptoms of fatigue in runners during a period of intensified training. The purpose of the study was to determine if a highcarbohydrate diet (8.5 grams of carbohydrate per kilogram of body weight per day [8.5 g CHO/kg/day]) consumed during intense training would prevent fatigue when compared to a control diet (5.4 g CHO/kg/day). Subjects were seven trained male runners who were instructed to train normally for 4 days, then increase the intensity for 7 additional days. After two trials, results showed that runners consuming the high-CHO diet had a fatigue score of 7, while the score for those on the control diet was 13. Researchers concluded that (1) the high fatigue score in the control diet was
linked to low levels of muscle glycogen; and (2) a high-CHO diet can reduce the symptoms of fatigue (Achten et al. 2003). Another study, presented by researchers from the Federal University of S
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