TART-TASTING Montmorency cherries are renowned for their performance-enhancing properties and boost to strength training and now a new study suggests they might also aid recovery.

A team from Northumbria University showed functional sprint performance could be maintained for longer than usual when athletes consumed a concentrated dose of the cherry extract. Of the 16 participants in the trial, half consumed 30ml of Montmorency concentrate mixed with 100ml of water twice a day in the morning (at 8am) and evening (6pm), while the rest of the volunteers took a placebo drink.

During the week-long study, athletes repeated a shuttle-test assessment with results suggesting the cherry shots produced a lower inflammatory response in the athletes’ muscles. “A number of investigations have shown a positive effect from other exercise forms such as strenuous cycling, long- distance running and heavy resistance exercise,” said Glyn Howatson, professor of human and applied physiology.

“In the most part, these exercises are damaging and we think that the cherry juice can help reduce the inflammation and oxidative stress associated with the exercise.”

It seemed the cherry extract had a specific effect on the IL-6 pathway, linked to inhibited muscular performance. “Seemingly, Montmorency cherry supplementation reduced (but did not abolish) this process and allowed for greater maintenance of muscular performance in the recovery period,” the authors said. 

*This article was first published in Athletics Weekly. For more of the latest running and athletics news, plus performance features and much more, grab a copy of the magazine or check out www.athleticsweekly.com