Friday, July 13, 2007

The Effects of Creatine Supplementation on Exercise-Induced Muscle Damage

Creatine has become one of the most popular ergogenic aids as people try and improve their training and athletic performance. Several studies have shown creatine supplementation to improve performance in short-term, high-intensity eccentric exercise (lengthening of the muscles). Researchers also hypothesize that creatine supplementation may exert a protective effect on skeletal muscle membranes during strenuous high-intensity exercise. The fact that muscles exhibit changes in protein levels to indicate damage after high-intensity exercise is well known. The changes in protein levels are indirect markers of muscle damage. Many people believe that by reducing these changes in markers of muscle damage they will be able to recover quicker from workouts and improve their athletic performance.

Purpose of the study: To examine the effects of creatine supplementation on several indirect markers of muscle damage after short-term, high-intensity eccentric exercise.

The study: 23 men ages 18-36 participated in the study. None of the men performed resistance training prior to the study. 12 of the men followed a creatine supplementation program for 5 days prior to the study. The other 11 men ingested a placebo. All 23 of the men followed the same short-term, high-intensity eccentric exercise. This consisted of 2 sets of 25 repetitions of maximal eccentric contractions. Eccentric contractions focus on overloading the weight used so the individual has more weight than they can lift. The individual only lowers the weight slowly. This form of exercise focuses on the lengthening portion of the exercise and leads to a very high-intensity form of exercise. Eccentric exercise usually produces the most dramatic changes in muscle protein levels, indicating high levels of muscle damage.

The results: The eccentric exercise performed was effective in producing high levels of protein changes, indicating extensive muscle damage. However, the creatine supplementation did not have any effect on reducing the muscle damage following the exercise. Both groups demonstrated the same protein level changes and severity of muscle damage. Subjects in both groups responded in a similar manner to the exercise test and displayed a similar time course of recovery on all muscle function and soreness measures. This shows that creatine supplementation had no effect on markers of muscle damage and therefore was not effective in decreasing muscle damage or enhancing recovery from high-intensity eccentric exercise.

The bottom line: This study shows that while creatine supplementation might have some performance benefits, it is not the be-all, end-all performance enhancing supplement. Once again, this study shows that there is no magic pill when it comes to improving performance. I still believe that nothing can beat hard work, time, and dedication to your training when you are trying to improve your health or athletic performance.

*The information for this study was provided by Eric Rawson, et al. from the article entitled The Effects of Creatine Supplementation on Exercise-Induced Muscle Damage, from the National Strength and Conditioning Association's Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, Vol. 15, No. 2, 2001.

No comments: