LANSING, Mich., Nov. 26, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- Montmorency tart cherries may have the potential to improve exercise recovery in active females, suggests a new study published in the European Journal of Sport Science. Researchers in the U.K. found that Montmorency tart cherry concentrate, when consumed twice a day for eight days, reduced self-reported muscle soreness and impacted certain aspects of muscle function after exercise, compared to a placebo.
These latest findings add to a growing body of evidence supporting Montmorency tart cherries as an effective exercise recovery aid. Previous studies have demonstrated the positive impact of Montmorency tart cherries on reducing strength loss and diminishing reported muscle soreness and markers of inflammation – primarily in male marathon runners, cyclists, and soccer players. This study, conducted at the Department of Sport Exercise and Rehabilitation at Northumbria University, is the first to explore the potential benefits among a female only population.
"The recovery process in females is likely different from the recovery process in males due to the role of estrogen, which may influence the muscles' response to exercise," said co-author Meghan A. Brown. "Our results suggest female athletes may benefit from incorporating Montmorency tart cherry concentrate into their training regimen."
In this randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, researchers recruited 20 physically active, college-aged women who were part of a university dance team. The group was randomly assigned to consume either Montmorency tart cherry concentrate or a placebo beverage twice a day for eight days – once before breakfast and again before the evening meal. The Montmorency tart cherry beverage was prepared using 30 mL of concentrate (equivalent to around 90 whole cherries) and 100 mL of water, while the placebo beverage contained a fruit-flavored concentrate with negligible polyphenol content mixed with water. Beverages were matched for volume, consistency and color, as well as protein, carbohydrate and calorie content.
On average, all participants had been training in dance regularly for an average of 13 years and were exercising a little over 8 hours each week. For 24 hours prior to the start of the trial, they were instructed to avoid strenuous exercise, alcohol, caffeine, nutritional supplements and any anti-inflammatory drugs or alternative treatments. They were also asked to maintain their normal diet outside of the supplemental beverages they were assigned. All data collection took place during the same phase of the menstrual cycle, determined via self-reported menstrual cycle questionnaires, to control for estrogen levels.
On day five of supplementation, subjects completed 15 30-meter sprints, each separated by 60 seconds of rest. Researchers compared indicators of self-reported muscle soreness, inflammation and muscle function between the group drinking Montmorency tart cherry concentrate and the group drinking a placebo, measuring these variables before the exercise trial took place and again zero, 24, 48 and 72 hours after.
In this group of physically active women, Montmorency tart cherry concentrate reduced self-reported muscle soreness in the days following exercise and improved the recovery of muscle function as evidenced by a series of countermovement jumps (vertical jumps from a squat position). Additional measures of muscle function including maximum voluntary isometric contraction (strength of contraction at the right knee), a series of drop jumps (vertical jumps after dropping from a height of 30 cm) and 30-meter sprint time did not show a difference between groups.
Indicators of inflammation were not affected by the series of sprints these athletes completed, which suggests this type of exercise elicited only a moderate muscle damage response. This could explain the absence of between-group differences in inflammatory markers, as the degree of muscle damage may have been insufficient to detect significant differences throughout the recovery process. Previous research involving more strenuous exercise, such as high-intensity cycling, has found Montmorency tart cherry concentrate to decrease certain markers of inflammation.
Montmorency tart cherries are the most common variety of tart cherries grown in the U.S., and are available year-round in dried, frozen, canned, juice and juice concentrate forms. Other varieties of tart cherries may be imported and not grown locally.
Source: Brown MA, Stevenson EJ, Howatson G. Montmorency tart cherry (Prunus cerasus L.) supplementation accelerates recovery from exercise-induced muscle damage in females. European Journal of Sport Science. 2018; Jul 28:1-8.
Cherry Marketing Institute
The Cherry Marketing Institute, a not-for-profit organization funded by U.S. tart cherry growers and processors, provided partial financial support for the study. The funders had no role in the study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish or preparation of the manuscript. CMI's mission is to increase the demand for Montmorency tart cherries through promotion, market expansion, product development and research. To learn more about previous research studies on Montmorency tart cherries, visit ChooseCherries.com.