Long distance runners are known to take NSAIDs before a competitive event to prevent or reduce pain. This carries the risk of adverse medical effects. A viable alternative is to look towards the healing power of food. For example, tart cherry juice taken for 7 days before a 12 mile run and on the day of the run significantly reduced post-run pain (1).
While the folks who sell tart cherry juice products funded that research, the bottom line is that all colorful fruits and their juices are very powerful in terms of reducing pain associated with inflammation. That’s because colorful fruits/juices are rich in antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. These include Welch’s purple grape juice, PomWonderful pomegranate juice, as well as strawberries, blueberries, dates, mango….
How do you plan these into your diet? Four easy suggestions include:
• Whip up a fruit smoothie for breakfast or recovery snack; add some Greek yogurt or powered milk for protein.
• Sprinkle generous amounts of chopped dates, dried apricots and other dried fruit on top of oatmeal or other breakfast cereal.
* Tuck two bottles into your gym bag: one with water, one with tart cherry, pomegranate or blueberry juice into your gym bag so the fluids will be ready and waiting to quench your thirst.
• Establish a food rule: You have to eat some dates (they are powerfully sweet and very rich in anti-oxidants) before you have a cookie or other dessert. (Hopefully, this will even kill your appetite for the cookie!)
Eat wisely and be well,
(1) Kuehl KS, Perrier ET, Elliot DL, Chesnutt JC. Efficacy of tart cherry juice in reducing muscle pain during running: a randomized controlled trial. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2010 May 7;7:17.