Push-ups without regret

16. February 2007

Muscle men and women - check it out! Perhaps your suffering after an overdose of weights room is coming to an end. When the workout-burnout strikes again, the good old caffeine seems to help and at least as good as a pain killer. Whether it's filtered or come in a pill - at any rate it's OTC.

We all know the problem. If you finally make it to the gym after ten weeks of stress at work, your guilty conscience is driving you to do the circle at least twice to make up for the 500 Euro annual ticket. But as a minimum “punishment” you decide for a few weights more, although your body tells you rather not to do that. The consequences: At first you feel great. After one or two days, the sore muscles set in – and all of a sudden, nothing goes any more.

Relief for the King of Pain

With this sore muscles martyrdom, the gods themselves struggle in vain…. But they let a bush grow to help the suffering. This shrub is very popular and is named Coffea arabica, known as the coffee plant. Scientists from the University of Georgia report in the February issue of the Journal of Pain about their research between Starbucks Coffee Shops, caffeine pills and gym. Their group of participants was rather small with only 9 women, but double-binding since the results are placebo supported. The scientists examined, which effect five milligrams of caffeine per kilogram bodyweight had on that particular delayed muscle pain known to any fitness disciple out there. The ladies participating in the studies were neither trained excessively nor heavy coffee consumers. They were connected to a machine electrically stimulating their Quadriceps 64 times. This resulted in a muscle strain nearly the same as resulting from exaggerated use of the exercise machines in the gym. Exactly 24 and 48 hours after this electronic Quadriceps-workout, the young women of the verum group received their caffeine- or placebo dose, i. e. according to an average body size in the verum arm about a caffeine dose equivalent to two cups of coffee. After one hour, the test persons were ask to contract the damaged Quadriceps maximally and submaximally. After that, they evaluated the intensity of the pain on a centesimal visual analogous scale to see, if there is any difference between the caffeine and the placebo therapy.

Renaissance of the Caffeine-Pill

And indeed: Those women who had taken caffeine stated an average of a significant 48 percent less intensity of pain during maximal contraction than those who had taken the placebo. During submaximal, excentric contraction, the difference was not quite as significant, but still at 24 percent – advantage caffeine. The scientists around Professor Patrick O'Connor are convinced about a renaissance of the almost forgotten caffeine pill or at least a health supporting push in turnovers for Starbucks & Co. “Many people take ASS or Ibuprofen against muscle sores, but it looks as if caffeine is just as effective, at least for women not used to drinking a lot of coffee”, says O'Connor. Director of studies Viktor Maridakis already toys with the idea to enter caffeine as a regular to the gym program. “If caffeine helps against muscle pains, it could make the start of the training program for newcomers a whole lot easier.” Now, it's hard to imagine caffeine pills tête-à-tête with cans full of amino acids in a gym – also on legal grounds. But for pharmacies it opens a new door. In addition to travel consultation, the pharmacy could offer fitness consulting as well, offering – and selling – not only caffeine pills and protein preparations, but also monitoring equipment and energy drinks. And any center pharmacy in the neighbourhood of Gym Company & Co. can open its doors for an on-the-spot consulting.

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