"Hey, Anyone Want to Run to Starbucks?"

In a small study of female college students, researchers found that a caffeine supplement seemed to lessen the muscle pain that crops up a day after a challenging workout.

Just when we got our membership card into the haughty I-Eshew-Coffee club, they publish this little study. We confess we're having trouble trying to figure out this caffeine thing. Every month we hear of some new revelation as to its mythical powers over Homo sapiens. Is caffeine good for you or is it so dangerous to users that they might as well fry their arteries in coconut oil? We certainly know about the call-to-arms regarding exercise and try to get on a treadmill (or at least an escalator) as often as our terribly busy schedule allows us. We also know that the day after a rigorous workout our thighs feel like someone has been dropping cinder blocks on them while we slept. This is what the shrinks call "positive punishment." To us it is called "pain."

In this small study, researchers studied caffeine's effects on postworkout muscle soreness in nine female college students who were not regular caffeine users and did not regularly engage in resistance training. The results appear in The Journal of Pain. The women received tablets containing either the equivalent of two cups of coffee or a placebo 24 and 48 hours after a resistance-training session designed to produce muscle soreness. An hour after taking the pills, the women were asked to perform two different exercises using their sore quadricep (thigh) muscles. The results showed that one hour after taking caffeine, the women experienced up to 48% less muscle pain than the placebo group. In comparison, O'Connor says previous studies of drugs containing naproxen (the active ingredient in Aleve) produced a 30% reduction in muscle soreness, and those using aspirin showed a 25% reduction.

The hypothesis is that caffeine's ability to block adenosine receptors reduces the pain and inflammation produced by "engaging in unaccustomed, eccentrically biased exercise," as the study authors put it. Hmm...as I recall the last time I experienced such an unaccustomed engagement was during a happenstance involving a police cruiser, a carton of rotten eggs and a moonless Hallowe'en night.

Man, my legs were sore the next morning, but not as sore as my father - but that's another story.

Please keep in mind that downing a couple of cups of java before entering the bullring may cause "increased feelings of anxiety, heart palpitations, increased blood pressure, upset stomach, increased urination and disrupted sleep," according to the study's lead author.

Ooh, we're scared - we're scared! Don't make us laugh - we look at a pot of coffee like a blitzing linebacker contemplates the blind side of a quarterback. Now draw one in the dark and bring me a plate of life preservers and a shingle with a shimmy and a shake!

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