Superfood Health Benefits: The Cherry – Reduces Muscle Damage

Superfood Health Benefits: The Cherry – Reduces Muscle Damage

Reduces muscle damage and inflammation during intense exercise



High-intensity or prolonged physical activity of any kind typically causes muscle damage, resulting in oxidative stress, inflammation and pain. The observed anti-inflammatory benefits of tart cherries prompted researchers to investigate whether they could be used to protect muscles, lower pain, and accelerate muscle repair.

Tart cherries can help athletes to reduce muscle damage and recover faster from intense exercise based on the below research. One of the studies below showed cherry juice decreased some of the symptoms of exercise induced muscle damage. Most notably, strength loss averaged over the four days after eccentric exercise was 22% with the placebo but only 4% with the cherry juice.

Research demonstrated that orally administered anthocyanins from tart cherries significantly lowered inflammation-induced pain in rats in a dose-dependent manner and that tart cherry juice blend lowered indicators of exercise-induced muscle damage in horses. Then researchers turned to controlled human trials, first testing the impact of tart cherries on the degree of pain following intense exercise.

The effects of tart cherry juice consumption were tested in a double-blind, randomised trial of runners participating in a 24-hour relay race. Runners drank two 355ml beverages containing either tart cherry juice or a placebo beverage daily for one week prior to the race and during the race. Two 355 mL bottles of tart cherry juice daily provides at least 80mg of anthocyanins which is the equivalent of 90 to 100 cherries.

Both groups reported pain after the race. But the runners who drank tart cherry juice experienced a substantially smaller pain increase after the race. This natural protection against acute muscle soreness suggested that tart cherries must be providing some defence against muscle damage. To confirm this, scientists conducted a controlled trial on indices of muscle recovery. Participants were given either tart cherry juice or a control drink for five days before, on the day of, and for two days after a marathon race.

Runners in the tart cherry group had significantly lower inflammation biomarkers (Interleukin-6 and C-reactive protein) compared to the placebo group. The tart cherry group also recovered isometric strength faster than the control runners, demonstrating an accelerated recovery following strenuous exercise.


Published Studies:

Montmorency cherry juice reduces muscle damage caused by intensive strength exercise. Bowtell JL, Sumners DP, Dyer A, Fox P, Mileva KN. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2011;43:1544-51.

Efficacy of a tart cherry juice blend in preventing the symptoms of muscle damage. Connolly DAJ, McHugh MP, Padilla-Zakour OI Br J Sports Med. 2006;40:679-83.

Effect of a tart cherry juice blend on exercise-induced muscle damage in horses. Ducharme NG, Fortier LA, Kraus MS, et al. Am J Vet Res. 2009 Jun;70(6):758-63.

Influence of tart cherry juice on indices of recovery following marathon running. Howatson G, McHugh MP, Hill JA, et al. Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2010;20:843-52.

The prevention and treatment of exercise-induced muscle damage. Howatson G, Van Someren KA: Sports Med. 2008;38:483-503

Efficacy of tart cherry juice in reducing muscle pain during running: a randomized controlled trial. Kuehl KS, Perrier ET, Elliot DL, Chesnutt JC. Journal Int Soc Sports. 2010;7:17.

The exercise-induced stress response of skeletal muscle, with specific emphasis on humans. Morton JP, Kayani AC, McArdle A, Drust B. Sports Med. 2009;39(8):643-62.