We’ve all felt it – that pain and stiffness that occurs several hours (and even days!) after unaccustomed exercise or overworking a particular muscle group. Known as ‘delayed onset muscle soreness’ (DOMS), we typically experience these pains when eccentric muscle activity is involved and the contracting muscles are forcibly lengthened.1 This mechanical stress triggers an inflammatory response and the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS). The result is sustained inflammation and oxidative stress which can eventually lead to muscle injury and the dreaded DOMS.2
The medicinal benefits of regular turmeric consumption have been well documented; from improving brain function to lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease, preventing and treating Alzheimer’s Disease and even fighting certain types of cancer. What is less commonly known is that Curcumin (the active constituent of Turmeric that gives it its distinctive yellow colour) has also proven to be beneficial in recovery from exercise due to its powerful antioxidant and inflammatory effects.
To test the theory, a trial was carried out to measure the effects of oral curcumin versus placebo on DOMS following unaccustomed heavy eccentric exercise. The study was a double-blind, randomised-controlled crossover trial in which the Curcumin or placebo were taken two days before to three days after eccentric exercise and the results found that only the Curcumin had beneficial effects. These included:
A double-blind randomised-controlled crossover trial was designed to measure the effects of oral curcumin versus placebo on single-leg jump performance and DOMS following unaccustomed heavy eccentric exercise. The Curcumin or placebo were taken 2 days before to 3 days after eccentric single-leg press exercise and only the Curcumin was found to have beneficial effects. These included:
• moderate to large reductions in single-leg squat and gluteal stretch pain at 24 and 48 hours post exercise,
• reduced pain on walking down stairs, and
• improved muscle performance.3
Another recent randomised, placebo-controlled, single-blind trial comparing Curcumin with placebo was designed to assess the muscle damage of healthy male volunteers after performing a 45 minute downhill running race. Results found that 1g of turmeric given twice daily resulted in:
• reduced MRI evidence of muscle injury in the posterior and medial compartment of both thighs,
• less pain in the lower legs, and
• reduced systemic inflammatory response in comparison to placebo.2
The results from these studies suggest that turmeric has the potential to be very beneficial in reducing post-exercise soreness after high intensity training.
Nuzest’s Chai, Turmeric and Maca Clean Lean Protein (CTM-CLP) contains 1g of 100% pure Indian turmeric root and 19g of digestible protein per 25g serve, making it the perfect pre- and post-workout supplement. Because Curcumin alone has a very low bioavailability, CTM-CLP also contains 100mg of black pepper per serve which has been proven to enhance the bioavailability of curcumin in humans by 2000%.4 A clinical study conducted on elite rugby players has shown that the combination of curcumin and piperine (black pepper’s active ingredient) supplementation before and after exercise may help lessen some aspects of muscle damage.5
So if you’re looking to dial up the intensity of your training, or you want to recover and get back into it faster, try adding turmeric to your diet.
1Proske, U., & Morgan, D. L. (2001). Muscle damage from eccentric exercise: mechanism, mechanical signs, adaptation and clinical applications. The Journal of Physiology, 537(Pt 2), 333–345. http://doi.org/10.1111/j.1469-7793.2001.00333.x
2Drobnic, F., Riera, J., Appendino, G., Togni, S., Franceschi, F., & Valle, X. et al. (2014). Reduction of delayed onset muscle soreness by a novel curcumin delivery system (Meriva®): a randomised, placebo-controlled trial. Journal of The International Society of Sports Nutrition, 11(1), 31. http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1550-2783-11-31
3Nicol, L., Rowlands, D., Fazakerly, R., & Kellett, J. (2015). Curcumin supplementation likely attenuates delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). European Journal of Applied Physiology, 115(8), 1769-1777. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00421-015-3152-6
4Shoba, G., Joy, D., Joseph, T., Majeed, M., Rajendran, R., & Srinivas, P. (1998). Influence of Piperine on the Pharmacokinetics of Curcumin in Animals and Human Volunteers. Planta Medica, 64(4), 353-356. http://dx.doi.org/10.1055/s-2006-957450
5Delecroix, B., Abaïdia, A. E., Leduc, C., Dawson, B., & Dupont, G. (2017). Curcumin and Piperine Supplementation and Recovery Following Exercise Induced Muscle Damage: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Journal of Sports Science and Medicine, 16, 147-153.