By Matt Evans
If you've started a fitness routine this year, you might be feeling muscle pains after you work out. Usually, this is a natural part of exercise, called delayed-onset muscle soreness (or DOMS), which means your muscles ache as they take time to heal between fitness sessions.
You might be looking for an anti-inflammatory, which often crops up when looking at the best supplements for joints. However, science has also found an all-natural way to reduce muscular pain: cherry juice.
It may sound odd, but drinking cherry juice - specifically tart cherry juice - could have an anti-inflammatory effect, preventing your muscles from becoming too sore and helping your recovery. Scientists from the University of Delaware have studied the effects of tart cherry juice on inflammation, finding some positive effects.
It's a trick that many pro athletes, including top basketball player DeAndre Liggins, swear by too.
The NBA journeyman turned British Basketball League star - who currently plays for the London Lions - says: 'This is a great hack for at home workout recovery as it is cheap and easy to find, but also one of the most effective ways in reducing inflammation.'
So what's the science behind it?
The Delaware study had men and women between the ages of 65 and 80 drink 480ml of cherry juice every day for 12 weeks. After the study period was up, it was found all participants who drank a daily glass of juice had "significantly increased plasma levels of DNA repair activity", encouraging the body to repair itself.
In addition, the cherry juice was found to reduce blood pressure and lower cholesterol as a result of its anti-inflammatory properties. It's also an antioxidant, which could protect against several forms of cancer, which have been found to be linked to chronic inflammation.
Don't worry: chronic inflammation is different to the kind of inflammation you find in your muscles after a workout, so pumping iron won't increase your cancer risks. However, anti-inflammatory treatments will still curtail both your muscular pain and reduce your risk of chronic inflammation.
You could purchase cherry juice in a carton, but this is often from concentrate or thinned down, so do pay attention to the label before buying. Alternatively, simply de-stone a box of regular cherries and throw them into one of our best blender entries along with some low-fat yoghurt - just remember to purchase tart cherries, and not the sweet variety.
If you're looking for more anti-inflammatory solutions, you could try rubs like Deep Heat and Tiger Balm to soothe muscular pain. Alternatively, some of our best fish oil supplements are rich in omega-3, which has strong anti-inflammatory properties, or electrical stimulation belts, which cause a current to run through your core muscles to help you recover faster.
Matt Evans is an experienced health and fitness journalist and Channel Editor at Fit&Well. He's previously written for titles like Men's Health and Red Bull, and covers all things exercise and nutrition on the Fit&Well website. Matt originally discovered exercise through martial arts: he holds a black belt in Karate and remains a keen kickboxer and runner. His top fitness tip? Stretch.
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