Ask A Trainer

Many people suffer from Osteoarthritis (OA), Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) or simply the casual wear and tear from a workout that may have been too intensive. As a trainer who loves to bike, run and lift, I occasionally feel the effects of the wear and tear I place on myself. From a nutritional standpoint, I am very careful about what I put in my body. And I encourage my clients to be the same way. So when they ask me about preventive options or pain management options, I recommend tart cherry supplementation.

I was drawn to tart cherry supplementation from the success my own mother had in managing her RA pain and the added benefits in endurance recovery that recent research was discovering. Once I started the preventative supplementation, the pain and stiffness I had was dramatically lessened. Due to tart cherry supplementation being a naturally derived product, there are no additives or artificial colors or dyes.

Tart cherry supplementation can come in a few different forms. There is a juice concentrate—in which you add liquid of your choice—as well as juice and pill forms. I have used both the pill and concentrate form and found success with both. Being a graduate student, my advice to other students is to look into the pill form, as it is more cost-effective.

In 2007, a study examined 20 women—aged 40 to 70 years old—all suffering from osteoarthritis with high levels of inflammation. After three weeks of consuming tart cherries, all 20 women had significantly lower inflammatory markers in their blood work. They also reported having less morning stiffness, less pain throughout the day and less aching in their joints. While the tart cherries did not take away the pain completely, it seemed to make symptoms much more manageable for the study’s participants. This study sparked intrigue and excitement in the heath community about what other health benefits could be gained from tart cherry supplementation. Similar studies have replicated similar results in both men and women, young and old.

Based on the scientific evidence that has been accumulated over the past 20 years investigating tart cherries, there are many benefits to consuming, for many subgroups. It’s likely that endurance and high intensity athletes may be a prime target audience for the use of tart cherries due to the strong evidence that aids in muscle damage and recovery. Whether it be from lifting, running, biking, swimming or some other activity, tart cherry supplementation can aid in your recovery. Due to the high level of antioxidants, recovery for muscle damage is quicker. People suffering from arthritis, either RA or OA, should not be ignored, as the benefits in reducing chronic inflammation are strong. Inflammation is a key reason why arthritis is so painful, especially for RA suffers.

In conjecture with current medication, a positive additive to assist in your diet would be tart cherries. There is no subset of the population that wouldn’t benefit from taking tart cherries. I recommend tart cherries to young clients and athletes, as well as clients who suffer from OA and RA.

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