How nice would it be to have an all natural supplement to improve athletic performance and reduce soreness post-workout? Well, we might be in luck. The answer—tart cherry. This supplement has been used for years to aid recovery and antioxidant support. A recent study (1) even highlighted its affects on endurance runner’s race times.

The science

In the study mentioned above, study authors had their subjects consume 480mg of tart cherry extract or a placebo for 10-days including their marathon race day. They then recorded fasting blood samples and recorded quadriceps soreness ratings using an algometer (used to measure sensitivity to pressure). These recordings were performed: pre-run, 60-min, 24 and 48 hours post-run. They found those who consumed the cherry extract ran 13% faster than the placebo group, along with having 34% lower soreness ratings and 47% less inflammatory markers (most likely caused from antioxidant production).

Another study that analyzed tart cherry juice in runners had similar observations. In this study the authors noticed tart cherry consumers had 10% or more of a total antioxidant status, along with less inflammatory markers. To further the case for tart cherry juice, another study (2) analyzed tart cherry juice in muscle pain post-run. They found consuming tart cherry juice for seven days prior and during strenuous running bouts decreased post-run muscle pain/soreness.

Why does it work?

  • When we run or workout we put stress on the body, while it’s the good form of stress that will facilitate future health benefit—it’s stress nonetheless.
  • Tart cherry is very high in antioxidants which help clear free radicals from the body, or the products that produce negative effects on the body.
  • Flavonoids, specifically anthocyanins are the abundant antioxidants found in tart cherry juice. Flavonoids can also be found in dark chocolate, berries, and multiple vegetables.
  • Muscle soreness is typically caused by damage and stress to the muscle; antioxidants help aid clearing some of the components that contribute to the stress. 
  • The more efficient the body is at clearing these stressors, the more efficient we can recover.

Need inspiration?

Tart cherry juice is great because it’s taken once a day and requires very little to prep and take. Also, it comes in multiple forms, so if capsules aren’t your thing—there’s liquid base and powders—which are great for mixing with other ingredients. You could even use the liquid base and powders to create frozen summer treats by freezing them in ice pop trays!

Works Cited

  1. Levers, K., Dalton, R., Galvan, E., O’Connor, A., Goodenough, C., Simbo, S., Mertens-Talcott, S. U., Rasumussen, C., Greenwood, M., Riechman, S., Crouse, S. & Kreider, R. B. (2016). Effects of powdered Montmorency tart cherry supplementation on acute endurance exercise performance in aerobically trained individuals. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 13:22. DOI: 10.1186/s12970-016-0133-z
  2. Kuehl, K. S., Perrier, E. T., Elliot, D. L., & Chesnutt, J. C. (2010). Efficacy of tart cherry juice in reducing muscle pain during running: a randomized controlled trial. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 7, 17. http://doi.org/10.1186/1550-2783-7-17