Could Tart Cherry Juice Combat Muscle Soreness?

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Six weeks from today, I, along with 11 of my fellow SparkPeople running pals of the Sparkin' Hood to Coast Team, will be participating in one of the most prestigious long distance relays in the world--The Hood to Coast Relay. The relay begins on the slopes of Mt. Hood at the Timberline Lodge and winds through the Oregon terrain until the last runner crosses the finish line 197 miles down the road in the town of Seaside.

Each runner is given three distinct legs of varying distances, averaging 16 total miles, to be completed within a 31 hour time limit. Participants are expected to provide their own food, water and other amenities. We will be sleeping in short shifts, riding in a van, or waiting at the transition point until it is our turn to run. And because there is little time for muscle recovery in between runs, it has been reported that some runners have been known to experience soreness and stiffness during this time.

So you may be wondering what tart cherry juice has do with running the Hood to Coast Relay?

Well, as luck would have it, I was reviewing my Runner's World email from last week and lo and behold there was a mention of Hood to Coast participants "who drank tart cherry juice twice daily for a week before and during the 197-mile relay and reported feeling less pain than placebo drinkers."

Since being told last year during my RRCA running coach's certification class regarding the unfavorable side effects of using anti-inflammatory meds such as Aleve and Motrin for muscle aches and pains, I have been looking into more natural ways of helping my body speed recovery, including using whole foods, icing after my runs and performing self-myofascial release.

I have known for some time now about the anti-inflammatory properties of consuming blueberries, dark chocolate and pomegranates, but I had never heard of the benefits of consuming tart cherries and tart cherry juice to help lessen muscle soreness and inflammation.

According to Kerry Kuehl, M.D., associate professor of medicine at Oregon Health and Science University School of Medicine and lead author of the study regarding the use of tart cherry juice for recovery, "the runners who drank 10.5 ounces of Montmorency cherry juice twice a day for seven days prior to the race and then drank that amount every eight hours on race day experienced less inflammation and reported faster muscle strength recovery."

Upon reading this information I put a notice out to my fellow runners about this new finding. Hopefully by the time I make the trek from Texas to Oregon there will be plenty of tart cherry juice waiting in the vans for us all to drink up as we travel down the winding roads and embark on one of the greatest journeys in running.

Were you aware of the benefits of tart cherry juice? How much would you be willing to spend for this juice if the facts show that it actually does diminish inflammation? Do you believe the antioxidant qualities of certain foods live up to the hype?