Muscle soreness while exercising is usually from the accumulation of metabolic by products, resulting in the muscle becoming acidic. This type of soreness usually disappears within minutes or hours after finishing an exercise program. The other common type of soreness is referred to as delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS). DOMS is associated with exercise-induced damage to the muscle fibers — the soreness results from inflammatory reactions and accumulation of fluid in muscle fibers. DOMS is usually felt 24-48 hours after exercise has taken place.
DOMS causes a reduction in the force-generating capacity of muscles. Full muscle strength may not return for days or even weeks. A variety of strategies to alleviate DOMS including stretching, ice, compression, massage, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs have been used by athletes with limited success.
Researchers from the United Kingdom had athletes perform a series of damaging exercises consisting of 100 drop jumps. For one week prior to the exercise, and also during the recovery period, athletes consumed a total of 20g of BCAAs daily in two 10-gram doses, in the morning and evening.
The athletes’ perceived level of muscle soreness reached a peak two days after exercise and was significantly reduced in the group using BCAAs. Blood levels of creatine kinase, a marker of muscle damage, peaked one day after exercise and were 22% lower in the BCAA group. Muscle force generating capacity decreased 27% in the placebo group compared to only 18% in the BCAA group. Recovery of force during the four days after exercise was also faster in the BCAA group.
These findings may indicate that BCAAs can play a role in recovery and reducing DOMS.
Dominick Walsh is a blogger for Performance Nutrition and TMRzoo.com and covers all men’s health topics and exercise issues including protein powders, diets, weight loss, weight lifting supplements, fat burners and supplement reviews. Dominick’s columns cover everything you need to know about your pre, during and post workout nutrition.