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News - Ginger may ease post-exercise aches

By Holly Taylor BSc(Hons) DipCNM MBANT NTCC

According to a new study published in The Journal of Pain, ginger may reduce the pain associated with muscle injury after exercising. The primary finding was that both raw and heat-treated ginger supplements reduced muscle pain intensity, 24 hours after exercise.

The ginger plant (Zingiber officinale) is a rich source of antioxidants, including gingerols and zingerones. Previous trials have shown that these antioxidant compounds can have anti-inflammatory effects, so the researchers deduced that ginger might also be effective for reducing pain in humans.

In order to test their theory, they recruited 74 volunteers and randomly assigned them to consume two grams of raw or heat-treated ginger supplements for 11 days in a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomised study. The subjects then performed 18 arm extensions with a heavy weight to induce moderate muscle injury to the arm.

Arm function, inflammation and pain were assessed prior to, and for three days after, exercise.  Results showed that exercise-induced pain was reduced by 25% after daily supplements of raw ginger, and by 23% after supplementation with the heat-treated form.

“The economic and personal costs of pain are extremely high. Muscle pain, generally, is one of the most common types of pain and eccentric exercise-induced muscle pain, specifically, is a common type of injury related to sports and/or recreation, like gardening”, said co-author Patrick O’Connor. “Anything that can truly relieve this type of pain will be greatly welcomed by the many people who are experiencing it.” 

Article References

Black CD et al. (2010) “Ginger (Zingiber officinale) Reduces Muscle Pain Caused by Eccentric Exercise” The Journal of Pain. [Epub ahead of print.]

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