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.