Cherries contain numerous antioxidant and anti-inflammatory substances such as favonoids and anthocyaninides, which may be useful for preventing muscle damage associated with exercise and its associated symptoms.
One studied, evaluated the effectiveness of a cherry drink in the prevention of exercise-induced muscle damage. It involved 14 male students who drank or cherry drink or a placebo, twice daily for 8 consecutive days. On the fourth day of supplementation, eccentric contractions of the elbow flexors were performed (2 x 20 contractions maximum). Isometric flexion strength of the elbow, pain and muscle sensitivity and the angle of the relaxed elbow were evaluated before and 4 days after exercise. This protocol was repeated 2 weeks later with the patients who had taken the placebo at the beginning, this time taking the cherry drink (and vice versa), and using the opposite arm of the first test.
The results showed less loss of strength and less pain, in the group that took cherry compared to placebo, although no significant differences in sensitivity or angle were seen of the relaxed elbow.
The consumption of cherries before and after exercise was effective in reducing some of the symptoms of exercise-induced muscle damage. Therefore, a cherry concentrate can be a practical supplement for athletes who want to avoid or reduce these muscle problems.
Reference: Efficacy of a tart cherry juice blend in preventing the symptoms of muscle damage. Br J Sports Med 2006; 40: 679-683.