Some antioxidants are efficient in reducing delayed onset muscle soreness
Cristina G. Pedraz/DICYT Researchers from the Institute of Biomedicine of the University of León (Ibiomed), of the Universidad Autónoma de Chihuahua in Mexico, and of the University of Viçosa in Brazil have carried out a systematic revision of the scientific literature to find out the effects of antioxidant supplements in the reducing of delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), which is commonly known as stiffness.
In an article published in the scientific journal Nutrición Hospitalaria, Ramón Candia Luján, José Antonio de Paz, and Osvaldo Costa Moreira carry out a bibliographical search on the main scientific databases on antioxidant supplements. The latter have become popular in recent years to counteract the effect of free radicals and symptoms of muscle damage, including DOMS.
The Ibiomed researcher José Antonio de Paz explains to DiCYT the reason for the interest in further study in this field. “At Ibiomed we have been working since 2000 with patients with multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, and kidney failure, among other condition, to analyse how by means of physical conditions we can improve the quality of life and reduce the disability of these patients”.
During these years of work the researchers have found that one of the most important things to build up in people with delicate health is muscular strength. “Both the amount of muscle and strength itself must be increased. Muscle tissue is today considered to be an endocrine organ and it also has an immune function. This is why strength-orientated training not only increases the quality of life by improving how people function, but also has beneficial biological, biochemical, and hormonal effects”, de Paz emphasises.
To increase the amount of muscle and strength it is essential to plan strength training. There are two possibilities: “one is traditional training that consists of lifting weights, which is known as concentric and needs a lot of energy because if the muscle is to feel the effect the load needs to be quite large”. However, these patients “often lack sufficient energy to be able to lift this load”.
Another type of training consists of lowering loads and is known as eccentric training. “If we go up a mountain this is concentric work; basically we use up a lot of energy and it tires us a lot. if we descend the mountain however it is eccentric work and less tiring as we require less energy although it has considerable repercussions on the muscles”. Indeed this type of eccentric work causes DOMS. “Our legs ache not when we go up the mountain but when we descend it”, the researcher explains.
The Ibiomed scientific team is working on eccentric strength training as for patients with multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, kidney failure, or the elderly it is the most viable, although it causes a lot of muscular pain at the beginning.
“This is why we decided to study the information in international scientific publications on the use of antioxidant agents to reduce muscular pain caused by exercise, which we call delayed onset muscle soreness or colloquially stiffness”, he reminds us.
The researchers found 54 scientific articles on delayed onset muscle soreness and the use of antioxidant substances. Of these 54 articles, all of which were in English, they obtained the full text of 48. Of these, 17 concentrated on the effects of vitamin C and vitamin E, 14 on the use of polyphenols, 11 on the use of coffee and cocoa, and 4 on the consumption of commercial beverages. To sum up, “of the 17 articles on vitamin C and E, seven were effective; of the 14 articles on polyphenols nine were effective; of the 11 on coffee and cocoa also nine were effective; and of the 4 on commercial beverages only two were effective. The most efficient antioxidants thus appear to be polyphenols and coffee and cocoa”, the researcher points out.
On the other hand, he points out, for the administration of antioxidants to be efficient in reducing DOMS, generally speaking the treatment should be carried out not only after the exercise but also before.
The researchers who have taken part in this study together with José Antonio de Paz, i.e. Ramón Candia Luján and Osvaldo Costa Moreira, have been awarded grants from their respective countries for a doctoral stay of four years at the Ibiomed of the University of León. Both are lecturers at the universities of Chihuahua and Viçosa respectively and are working on various aspects of strength training.
The aspects they are analysing include the quantification of the amount of muscle or hypertrophy, in other words the result of the training sessions, for which densitometry is being used, and they are attempting to perfect the sensitivity and the specificity of this method. One of the studies that has been carried out concentrates on patients with multiple sclerosis. The participants in this study have carried out eccentric training with the specialised equipment of the University of León for 14 weeks; the results of this training session will be compared with those of 80 patients from other areas of Castilla y León who have offered to act as control subjects to whom traditional training has been applied.
The researchers are also working on strength training with breast cancer patients in collaboration with a scientific group from the University of Sonora of Mexico and with another group from Bogotá in Colombia. The objective is for these patients to gain strength and increase their muscles. In August the researchers received a prize for the work carried out in Bogotá in which they achieved the reduction of one of the biomarkers of this disease, IGF 1 (Insulin Growth Factor type 1).