Tart cherry juice has become popular in the past years. It is classed as one of the sporting worlds “superfoods” as the proposed benefit from consuming this natural product is quite impressive. They are considered risk free alternative to pharmacological supplements.
A study in 2006 found that people who drank Montmorency tart cherries had less muscle soreness after a hard bout of arm exercises (1). Moving on 13 years, at least 7 other studies have found equally convincing results. Most conclude that if you take tart cherry juice after mechanically or metabolically challenging exercise, it will reduce muscle soreness and enhance recovery.
Sounds good doesn’t it! So why are these cherries so magical?
Tart cherries are rich in anthocyanin and other flavonoids. These are antioxidant and anti inflammatory compounds that have been founds to lessen pain, accelerate strength and decrease blood markers of inflammation and stress. Tart cherries are also found to contain melatonin which is known to aid sleep, another vital aspect of the recovery process.
How much do we need to take ?
Studies suggest that 1oz of concentrate juice 2 x a day (approx 30ml concentrate mixed with water), 4-5 days before an event and 2-3 days after, will promote recovery and get you primed for competition. Some suggest taking a dose before bed to help aid sleep. Question is, why is the advice not to take it every day?
It is postulated that tart cherry juice may not be optimal during the adaptation or build phase of a training cycle. It has proven properties to help reduce inflammation which we know is great for recovery and short term gains, however, if taken at the wrong time, it may hinder long term adaptations. It may be that taking tart cherry juice may make you less sore the next day because you have managed to reduce inflammation , however, we need an aspect of inflammation in our training to be able to adapt to our training load. However, in the world of science, the relationship between antioxidants are still very much being worked out.
Taking tart cheery juice may reduce inflammation and aid recovery. It is best not to take it mid training phase, but you may benefit in a recovery or taper phase of your training schedule.