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October 2020
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Caffeine Cure?

Cyclist’s Study May Dispel ‘No Pain, No Gain’ Mantra

Could coffee reduce pain related to exercise?

Could coffee reduce pain related to exercise?

Caffeine consumption is one of those topics where there’s no hard-fastened rule.  For instance, if you’re pregnant, it’s best to avoid it; if you need an energy booster, it’s best to have it. If you’re sleeping patterns have been off-kilter lately, you may want to cut down; if you’re looking for a post-workout potion, you may want to drink up.

See what I mean?

A new study adds to the confusion regarding the pluses and minuses of caffeine, but chalk this one up in the plus category, as this study’s results could go a long way in dispelling the notion of “no pain, no gain” when it comes to exercise.

The study’s lead researcher wanted to see what effect caffeine use had on feelings of pain during exercise.  He got the idea for it after years of having a cup of coffee or two before he and his friends would go out for their regular bike ride.  Years of this ritual convinced him and his fellow riders that the caffeine was improving their performance.

Seven years and multiple tests later, he now has a better understanding of caffeine on the body – and it seems to be that caffeine improves performance via its soothing impact on the brain.

Their study involved 25 college-aged participants, half of whom were habitual caffeine users; the other half rarely ever consumed it, or as the lead researcher called them, the “caffeine-naïve.”

When the researchers supplied the caffeine-craven with varying dosages and then monitored their perceptions of pain (through questions and machinery that measured oxygen consumption and heart rate), they found that, indeed, caffeine diminished their pain levels when compared to those instances in which they received a placebo.

But what researchers found the most interesting was that even among the caffeine-carnivorous, they also experienced less pain.  Now, conventional wisdom would tell you that it wouldn’t produce the same effect, as those who drink a lot of caffeine are more accustomed to the effect it has on the body. 

Apparently, that tolerance factor doesn’t seem to apply to exercise.

Robert Motl, the study’s lead researcher, hopes to perform future studies on the ties between caffeine and exercise.  He hopes future analyses will uncover why the body doesn’t exhibit a tolerance to caffeine when it comes to exercise, and also whether or not caffeine actually improves athletic performance. 

With regards to pain tolerance, Motl says the suppression is due to the blocking of certain receptors released in the brain.

The study’s findings are published in the April issue of the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism.


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