Caffeine May Eliminate 'No Pain, No Gain'

Articles
April 03, 2009

Caffeine May Eliminate 'No Pain, No Gain'

Lots of cyclists routinely hit the coffee shop prior to long-distance rides to help them metabolize fat, gain energy, and work out smarter. A new study reports that the pause for a jolt of caffeine is actually a smart move because caffeine softens thigh pain enabling cyclists to pedal harder longer. Coffee may also benefit the weekend workout warriors to push themselves a little further without the deterrent of pain. Former competitive cyclist and kinesiology professor Robert W. Motl believes that the intuitive reach for a cup of coffee prior to a workout is a good thing, and it reduces pain in both those who are habitual coffee drinkers and those who are not. His current published study is based on an experiment that examined the effect of moderate doses of caffeine on quadriceps muscle pain during high-intensity cycling in both low and high-caffeine consuming males. Participating were 25 fit, college-aged males divided into those who consumed low amounts of caffeine (0 to 100mg) to those who drank upwards of three to four cups of coffee (400mg) per day. The research team requested that the participants not consume caffeine during the day prior to the test, then gave them caffeine via a pill one hour before each 30-minute session of exercise on an ergonometer (a stationary bike). The men were monitored to determine their aerobic power, oxygen consumption, heart and work rates, and the intensity of the quadriceps muscle pain they experienced while cycling. Those who consumed caffeine, not matter which amount, had a reduction in pain during exercise after caffeine consumption and those given the placebo did not.

Lots of cyclists routinely hit the coffee shop prior to long-distance rides to help them metabolize fat, gain energy, and work out smarter. A new study reports that the pause for a jolt of caffeine is actually a smart move because caffeine softens thigh pain enabling cyclists to pedal harder longer. Coffee may also benefit the weekend workout warriors to push themselves a little further without the deterrent of pain.

Former competitive cyclist and kinesiology professor Robert W. Motl believes that the intuitive reach for a cup of coffee prior to a workout  is a good thing, and it reduces pain in both those who are habitual coffee drinkers and those who are not. His current published study is based on an experiment that examined the effect of moderate doses of caffeine on quadriceps muscle pain during high-intensity cycling in both low and high-caffeine consuming males.

Participating were 25 fit, college-aged males divided into those who consumed low amounts of caffeine (0 to 100mg)  to those who drank upwards of three to four cups of coffee (400mg) per day. The research team requested that the participants not consume caffeine during the day prior to the test, then gave them caffeine via a pill one hour before each 30-minute session of exercise on an ergonometer (a stationary bike). The men were monitored to determine their aerobic power, oxygen consumption, heart and work rates, and the intensity of the quadriceps muscle pain they experienced while cycling. Those who consumed caffeine, not matter which amount, had a reduction in pain during exercise after caffeine consumption and those given the placebo did not.

Motl  said caffeine  blocks adenosine, the biochemical that impacts energy transfer (exercise) in the adenosine neuromodulatory system, the brain and spinal cord, that are heavily involved in pain processing.

We've shown that caffeine reduces pain reliably and consistently during cycling, across different intensities, across different people, and different characteristics, he noted, but the question lingers whether that reduction in pain can also translate into an improvement in sports performance. In the meantime, he added, people who have a little caffeine prior to workouts may reduce the amount of pain …[enough to]…help them stick with that exercise over a longer period of time and not abandon workouts because of pain.

Motl also believes that studying caffeine's impact on rats in the laboratory may offer more concrete answers to understanding the biological mechanism for caffeine in reducing pain, and how and why it works.

SOURCE: "Effect of Caffeine on Quadriceps Muscle Pain During Acute Cycling Exercise in Low Versus High Caffeine Consumers” was published in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, Apil 2009,volume 19, issue 2,  co-authored by Sigurbjorn A. Arngrimsson, Center or Sport and Health Sciences, Iceland University of Education; Steven P. Broglio, a researcher, and Robert W. Motl, a community health and kinesiology professor, with the  Department of Kinesiology and Community Health, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Other contributors were Rachael C. Gliottoni and John R. Meyers.