I always warn my students to use their critical thinking skills when I talk about caffeine. After all, this is the person who drank an average of 20 cups of coffee per day during graduate school. My boss at the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute turned me in to colleagues who were studying caffeine (I was the ideal participant, as I do not use any other substances), and they politely told me that 20 cups was a bit high. I have reformed–I probably drink about 8-12 cups these days.

So whenever I find something positive about caffeine, it’s always fun to talk about it. Now researchers at the University of Georgia have reported that women who consume caffeine one hour before exercise designed to produce muscle soreness reported 48% less pain compared to a placebo group.

The women in the study were not regular caffeine users, so perhaps this result does not apply to those of us who live on the stuff. However, my athletic family members were not surprised by this result. They noted anecdotally that there are some workouts that they follow with soda or coffee rather than water, suspecting that experience has shown that reduced pain will result.

This was a small-scale experiment (nine volunteers) using women only. Hopefully, the researchers will follow up with a larger scale experiment, including men and people who use caffeine regularly. In the meantime, I intend to continue enjoying my coffee, especially on stairmaster days.


ssheridan · January 15, 2007 at 6:51 pm

This article makes me happy too! I don’t drink as much coffee as Dr. Freberg, but i love the idea of caffeine reducing pain.
i would really like to know why this works and if it works for men too. I guess this makes sense though, because I know the headache reliever excedrine contains caffeine. Maybe it helps blood rush quickly to injured areas which could relieve pain.

toniobrown · January 18, 2007 at 4:08 pm

I really liked this article because I love to work out and I love coffee. The problem is I am a male and this study was done only on females. However, I hope to see this study repeated again in the near future with a larger sample and with both male and female subjects. I also hope to see this studied further with subjects who are regular coffee drinkers, seldom coffee drinkers, and who do not drink coffee at all. Maybe this could be a new breakthrough for coffee by reducing pain.

huggydrea · February 27, 2007 at 12:01 pm

Although I drink coffee on days when I really need to stay awake, I try not to drink it because of the way it makes me feel. I think that some people, like me, are just too affected by coffee to be drinking it. As an athlete myself, I can tell you that for me coffee is the worst thing I could drink before working out. If I do drink it before running or working out my heart begins to beat very rapidly I get tired quickley and feel like I can’t breathe. So for me, Ill steer clear of coffee before excersise.

alopez06 · June 4, 2007 at 12:46 pm

When I first read the results of this study they were kind of shocking to me. I am not much of an avid coffee drinker, but I do rely on it on occasion when I need to be awake for a later shift at work. Now looking back I do not feel so physically drained from standing up and running back and forth during the whole shift when I’ve had a nice frappaccino to jolt me awake. Maybe it’s the coffee that puts us in a different mood when we go to work out that helps the soreness not be so prevalent, but if it turns out to be true that the caffeine decreases soreness I will probably be working out more in the near future.

Roger’s View of the World, Love and Seafood Gumbo! » Do iPods cause Brain Cancer? · January 15, 2007 at 10:50 am

[…] Laura always writes about coffee… it is after all… one of her passions. […]

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