Friday, August 5, 2011

Research at a Glance—Pomegranate Juice and Healthy Backs


Pomegranate juice is not just another new drink in a pretty bottle. It can help decrease delayed muscle soreness that you might experience after a tough exercise bout, for either those new to exercise or competitive athletes.

The dark purple drink, called POM Wonderful, was the subject of a study published this month in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. Sports enthusiasts may do just as well by drinking pomegranate juice a couple of times a day as by popping Advil. The juice's antioxidants properties, which exceed other fruit juices, mop up ruinous free radicals that are produced when you exercise and also improve strength recovery.

Other studies are looking at both pomegranate and tart cherry juice supplementation for conditions characterized by inflammation and oxidative stress such as heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis and Type 2 diabetes. It's also thought that pomegranate juice could slow the build-up of cholesterol in your arteries, helping the arteries stay open and healthy.

It's not unusual to be sore and weak after an intense workout. You are actually 10-50 percent weaker at that time. Afterwards, delayed-onset muscle soreness can last anywhere from two hours to seven days post-exercise. To what extent muscle has been damaged depends on the peak force, volume, and intensity. The good news is that damaged muscle repairs itself, resulting in strength gains.


However, if you are a little impatient with post-exercise stiffness and soreness, the pomegranate juice might be a good idea. Check that the juice is pure, without added sugars. The researchers that for those who play in week-end tournaments, with results dependent on successive days of competition, the juice may be the way to go. As with any dietary or herbal supplement, check with your doctor, as the pomegranate juice could interfere with some medications, such as high blood pressure meds and statins.

Non-specific back pain—At one point or another, nearly everyone will experience some back pain. Back pain is the second most common neurological ailment in the United States and the leading cause of missed work. (Only headaches are more common.) Its treatment results in a staggering $50 billion in healthcare costs per year. Fortunately, most occurrences heal within a few days. Nagging, chronic non-specific low back pain, however, can affect all aspects of life, not just missed work.

Connie Aronson is a health and fitness specialist at the YMCA in Ketchum.

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