Photo from Flickr, Laurel Fan

Love the post-exercise high but could do without the pain? A new research study has revealed a super supplement that reduces damage and speeds recovery in muscles that have been injured through overuse. It's called creatine.

The study, published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, required 14 young men (aged 18-25) to drink either a creatine-fortified glucose drink or an unfortified glucose drink three times a day for the five days leading up to strength-building exercise. The exercise routine was designed to damage the muscles that flex and extend the knee.

Study co-author and senior lecturer in muscle physiology and exercise biochemistry at Victoria University Dr Alan Hayes says his research revealed that creatine acts to strengthen the muscle.

We found that muscle strength remained higher in men who received a creatine supplement before and during recovery from a damaging exercise session, he said. This means less muscle damage and faster recovery.

Creatine is made up of the amino acids arginine, methionine and glycine normally found in meat and fish. Stored in skeletal muscle tissue as energy for the cells, creatine can increase muscle mass and strength in people with neuromuscular diseases such as Parkinson's disease, Huntington's disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, as well as in professional athletes.

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In addition to creatine supplements, the following steps can be taken to avoid exercise-related muscle injury:

  • Change your workout incrementally: try not to increase the intensity or duration of your workouts by more than 10% a week.
  • Warm-up completely before you exercise
  • Cool-down with gentle stretches post-workout
  • Sleep well, eat well and stay hydrated.

Dr Alan Hayes is available for comment.

Media Contact: Johanna Waldon, Media Officer
Marketing and Communications Department, Victoria University
Ph: (03) 9919-4191 or Mobile: 0402 252 559