AW promotion: Analysis by the International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism concludes that tart cherries can aid muscle recovery and reduce soreness after hard exercise

Are you training hard this spring ahead of athletics competitions re-starting again this summer? If so, your body will benefit from good recovery techniques and new research suggests tart cherry juice can help in this area.

The International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism has analysed 14 previously published studies and has concluded that tart cherry supplementation – in the form of Montmorency tart cherry juice, powder or tablets – has a significant effect on improving the recovery of muscle strength and reducing reported muscle soreness after exercise.

Dr Jessica Hill at St Mary’s University and Professor Glyn Howatson and colleagues at Northumbria University pooled results of 14 recovery studies on tart cherries that included multiple measurements of muscle strength, muscle soreness, muscle power and several blood biomarkers of exercise induced muscle damage.

The studies involved 223 males and 71 females with an average age of 26 and tart cherry supplementation included one to two servings per day during the length of the study – ranging from 7-16 days, including pre-exercise, day of exercise and post-exercise. All of the studies used US-grown Montmorency tart cherry juice, concentrate, powder or supplements.

Howatson said: “In previous studies, we have found tart cherries to have significant benefits on recovery after strenuous exercise involving runners, cyclists and team sports players.

“However, there are some inconsistencies in the scientific literature and therefore we wanted to clarify the effectiveness and identify the factors most affected by tart cherry supplementation.”

The systematic review and meta-analysis concluded that tart cherry products consumed before and after strenuous exercise resulted in:

» A significant effect on recovery of muscle strength and muscle power and a smaller benefit on reported muscle soreness.

» A subgroup analysis identified by exercise type across three studies showed a significant effect of tart cherry supplementation on recovery of jump height and a significant but smaller effect on sprint speed.

» For the inflammatory biomarkers, a significant effect was observed for inflammation markers of C-reactive protein and Interleukin 6; but no significant effects were observed for creatine kinase.

“Although the overall picture shows a generally positive response, the variations in the response to tart cherries in some published studies are likely due to the differences in study design, dietary control, the study participants and the type of exercise,” Howatson added.

“For instance, tart cherry products seem to be more beneficial for exercise that is more metabolically challenging,” he said.

“Even though the exact mechanisms are yet to be fully understood, our findings provide support that tart cherries can aid the recovery of muscle function and reduce reported soreness following strenuous exercise.”

Nearly all of the studies on cherries and exercise recovery or performance have been conducted with Montmorency tart cherries, the most common variety of tart cherries grown in the US.

These homegrown tart cherries 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.

» The analysis by the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism is entitled “tart cherry supplementation and recovery from strenuous exercise: a systematic review and meta-analysis”

» For more information on the benefits of Montmorency Cherries and recipe ideas on how to help include in your diet, visit: choosecherries.co.uk