Friday, May 29, 2009

Tread Gingerly

Open water swimmers eat and drink a variety of products during their marathon swims and workouts. They consume everything from water, tea, coffee, Maxim, Gatorade, bananas to chocolate, cookies and specialty home-made formulations. We found an interesting study that was presented at this week's American College of Sports Medicine annual convention in Seattle, Washington.

Christopher Black, Matthew Herring, David Hurley, Patrick O'Conner, all from Georgia, studied the use of ginger supplements and its effects on inflammation and pain in humans.

The purpose of their research was to determine if 11 days of ginger supplementation would attentuate arm muscle pain, inflammation and/or dysfunction induced by high-intensity exercise. While ginger supplements are known for its hypoalgesic and anti-inflammatory effects on rodents, its effects on humans was not previously investigated.

34 research subjects were given two grams of either ground ginger or a placebo for 11 consecutive days. On Day 8, the participants performed 18 flexor repetitions on their non-dominant arm at an intensity of 120% of their one-repetition maximum. Immediately prior to and for three days after the exercise, muscle pain intensity, perceived effort, arm range-of-motion, isometric strength, arm volume and plasma prostaglandin E2 were assessed on each of the subjects. The ginger and placebo groups were compared on the days when peak responses occurred for the primary outcome measures in the placebo group.

The research team found that the peak pain ratings were 25% lower in the ginger group. Ginger also attentuated the peak decline in range-of-motion by 35%. There were also smaller effect size changes in arm volume, plasma prostaglandin and isometric strength, but it was not statistically significant.

The team concluded that the ginger supplementation attentuates peak muscle pain and the decline in range-of-motion caused by intense exercise.

Photo shows Olympian Mark Warkentin at the 2007 World Swimming Championships drinking a hydration formula NOT including ginger.

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