This week, we’re continuing our theme of ‘ultra-fast recovery’ and exploring the impact of fruit supplementation on indices of muscle damage.
During periods of strenuous training and competition, the muscle is placed under a high degree of strain, especially when loaded eccentrically. As a result, exercise-induced muscle damage (EIMD) occurs.
This results in delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), reduced force production and range of motion. As symptoms of EIMD can impair performance, an athlete’s goal is to return to baseline as quickly as possible.
Over recent years, fruit supplementation (i.e. Montmorency cherry, berries, blackcurrant, and pomegranate) have become increasingly popular in an attempt to support this outcome.
Theoretically, the phytochemicals in fruit extracts reduce markers of inflammation and oxidative stress, which are two pathways that worsen the level of EIMD. This is known as the secondary muscle-damage response.
Considering this, does the theory translate into real-world, meaningful differences for an athlete?
A recent review by Doma et al (2021) examined the available evidence and found that fruit supplementation on a whole reduced the detrimental effects of EIMD on various biomarkers of exercise-induced stress (i.e. muscle damage, inflammatory response, oxidative stress and anti-oxidant capacity) and DOMS for 24–48h post-exercise.
In addition to this, force generating capabilities were found to be better 24-48 hours post damaging exercise. These findings were most consistent when supplementing for more than three days in duration and pre/post the targeted event/race/game where EIMD will happen.
That being said; only 50% of studies found improvements in aerobic performance and anaerobic performances following supplementation – therefore, this is somewhat inconclusive.
Other reviews found that anaerobic performances can be improved with the inclusion of addition supplements/foods, such as whey protein, milk and vegetables products (Bowtell & Kelly, 2019). Therefore it’ll be somewhat difficult to establish the degree of impact these had on markers of recovery.
Nevertheless, an athlete wouldn’t solely place their recovery protocol on one supplement or method; it’ll be a multifaceted approach consisting of numerous strategies.
Considering fruit supplements do no harm and have the potential to accelerate recovery post highly strenuous events, this is a strategy to add to your recovery toolbox.
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