It is well known that optimal nutrition plays a vital role during recovery after exercise, where the replacement of the substrates used during exercise together with the facilitation of the muscle damage repair process are the main objectives when it comes to continuing to achieve adaptations by part of our athlete (not only in the hours before or after this, also during).
Ensuring adequate energy availability and hydration along with optimal carbohydrate and protein intake is essential, but we will not deal with these factors specifically in this article, we will focus on other factors focused on possible nutritional supplementation and foods with certain components. useful in the search for the improvement of the athlete’s recovery based on the available bibliography.
Exercise-induced muscle damage (EIMD) is a transitory event caused by performing exercises that our body is either not used to in a “normal” way or it can simply be caused by long-duration or high-intensity exercises (or a synergy between these).
Muscle damage is characterized by a disruption in homeostasis in our muscle fibers, giving rise to a secondary inflammatory response that causes cellular infiltration in the damaged tissues so that subsequent tissue repair and remodeling begins.
Beyond the damage to the myofibers, the extracellular matrix (ECM) of skeletal muscle is also subject to this degradation and remodeling after physical exercise (something histologically observable). There is a marked increase in the circulation of specific collagen amino acids, especially hydroxyproline, in the days after exercise.
There are numerous hypotheses and the origin and exact mechanisms of how this muscle damage caused by exercise or the so popular “late-onset muscle pain” (DOMS),
One of these hypotheses is that this muscle damage is rarely produced by the mechanical tension between the sarcomeres, since, if it were, this damage would only occur hours after training and the reality is that it may even take several days to appear and disappear. The most plausible hypothesis is that this muscle damage is caused to a greater extent by biochemical factors and therefore does not immediately cause a loss of strength just after exercise, but after hours and days afterwards (Chris Beardsley).
Even so, in this review, he leaves us a very interesting figure for those who are interested in the subject of how this phenomenon occurs and its main causes.
We can see that all these factors can really be integrated both independently and dependent on each other (welcome to 3D physiology)
In order not to lengthen the article too much and with the aim of providing some practical information on the subject, there are various supplements that, together with an adequate nutritional base, correct management of the training variables plus a rest in quantity and quality can bring us certain advantages when it comes to recovering efficiently and quickly.
As the authors point out, there is the eternal dilemma between achieving adaptations and recovering quickly with competitive objectives. These aids offer us a hybrid between the two, achieving a faster recovery in some cases without interfering with subsequent adaptations to exercise. These nutritional factors or supplements are about vitamin D, omega 3, creatine monohydrate, beet juice, tart cherry juice and pomegranate juice, which we will discuss on their proper timing and mechanisms of action in a future article.
All of these have greater evidence compared to other supplements used for the same purpose when it comes to improving recovery in our athlete. While being totally honest and transparent, not all of them lead to significant changes in recovery or markers that reflect this muscle damage after exercise (we could debate whether or not these are helpful in assessing the impact on recovery).
This is mainly due to the great heterogeneity in the available literature causing a clear difference in the effect size and results of the selected studies. In this case it is about factors such as; supplementation protocol and formulation, subjects’ training level (trained / untrained), age, sex, modality and training variables …