Caffeine reduces the pain of exercising…

Cafe Chocolats Art PosterScience Daily for April 7th had an article on how Caffeine Reduces Pain During Exercise. Professor of kenesiology and community health, Robert Motl has been studying the effects of caffeine on pain during exercise. He began by noticing that he always had a cup of coffee before going out to train and felt it helped him workout longer and perform better when he was a competitive cyclist.

Early in his research, Motl noticed:

“caffeine works on the adenosine neuromodulatory system in the brain and spinal cord, and this system is heavily involved in nociception and pain processing.” Since Motl knew caffeine blocks adenosine from working, he speculated that it could reduce pain.

Even more interesting to me is that the results were pretty much the same whether the test subject was a caffeine junkie or someone who barely ate or drank anything with caffeine in it. (Remember caffeine is in more than just coffee, it’s also in chocolate, soft drinks, and many other foods and beverages.) This particular study was only interested in pain and exercise and did coffee make a difference. For other activities or pain related problems caffeine might not work.

If you’ve been reading my blog, you’ll notice that the research about coffee/caffeine and its impact on people’s heath is very much dependent on what research you’re reading. It’s good for you. It’s bad for you. It’s okay in moderation. You should never touch the stuff. It might help reduce the pain during exercise.

What to believe?  I don’t know. I’ve never really paid attention to whether or not having coffee before I do my exercise routine helps me do more exercises or push on harder on the ones I do. I guess now I’ll have to keep that in the back of my mind.

Personally, as I’ve said before, I have a liking for a good cup of coffee but I reduce my intake for health reasons and so that when I have a migraine, drinking coffee will have more of an effect on alleviating the pain. Could it be that this pain blocking effect also works a bit with migraines or is it only the blood vessel dilation/contraction effects that are at work?  I don’t know but I will keep my eye out for more research on the effects of coffee/caffeine on health.

And I’ll also ponder whether the quality of that cup of coffee has any effect on the results of the research. After all if it’s a truly gross cup of coffee I might prefer the pain of the exercise. Would you?

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