Why Does Cherry Juice Work?
Cherry juice to reduced muscle soreness? It sounded a bit like broscience to me when I first heard about it. However, research has found significant differences in muscle soreness after administering tart cherry juice to runners and testing the results with a placebo group. Delayed Onset of Muscle Soreness (DOMS) can be largely explained by mechanical damage to the muscle fibers at a microscopic level. In particular, eccentric exercise (i.e. lengthening of muscle) is thought to be largely responsible for the microtraumas to the fibers. This damage causes a local inflammatory response in the muscle. This is where cherry juice comes into play. The anti-inflammatory compunds and the high levels of antioxidants in cherry juice seem to explain the reduction of DOMS. Too bad nobody has quantified the changes of inflammation biomarkers to definitely support the „Cherry Juice Hypothesis“
But I haven given this idea a fair try and so far I am positive on the result. The method I went about testing the „Cherry Juice Hypothesis“ was by performing a template leg workout that would usually make my glutes and quads really sore for 2 days following the workout. The workout consisted of front squats, diagonal leg presses, and hack squats – all performed at high intensity at around 75-85% of my 1 RM. I usually only have access to the leg press and hack squat machine once a month. This is the reason why I know that they always leave my legs painfully sore.
So, I downed one litre of cherry juice each during the workout and roughly 3 hours after the workout. The outcome? Sitting down or walking up the stairs was nowhere near as painful as without the cherry juice. This is not to suggest that cherry juice is the holy grail of preventing muscle soreness but if you can decrease soreness with something as cheap as cherry juice – why not?
My Remedies Against Muscle Soreness
While I am at it, I want to mention a few remedies that I like to use againt muscle soreness. Nothing earth-shattering but still worth mentioning. Copious amounts of magnesium citrate (1200 mg / day) has definitely helped me. Also, if your gym has a sauna, use it. I feel pleasantly afloat two 15-min sessions of 100 C Finnish Sauna. There is a cool side effect too – apparently, sauna can increase your serum growth hormone levels (142 %) for up to one hour.
I also love my Acupressure Yogi Mat to get my heart beat back to baseline post-workout and to get some blood flow into my back or stomach. The mat is usually so relaxing that I simply doze off within 10 minutes. Also, locally applying tiger balm (or the German equivalent: Pferdebalsam) to the skin has also helped me get more blood flow to the sore area. And lastly, soft tissue work using my Lacrosse Ball hurts like hell but effective.