Sore Muscles? Watermelon?

Muscle soreness following a vigorous or new workout is frequently inevitable, and though it may be uncomfortable, it’s actually a good thing.

It means that you’ve effectively stressed and challenged your muscles, and as your muscle fibres repair themselves, they’ll grow stronger in the process. Post-workout soreness is a normal response to exertion and part of an adaptive physiological process that leads to increased strength and stamina.

This muscle soreness will go away on its own in a matter of days, but if you aren’t keen on suffering in the meantime, there may be some natural options that help …

Watermelon Juice to the Rescue …

If you have a juicer, try juicing about one-third of a fresh watermelon and drinking its juice prior to your next workout. This contains a little over one gram of l-citrulline, an amino acid that seems to protect against muscle pain.

One study found that men who drank natural unpasteurized watermelon juice prior their workouts had reduced muscle soreness 24 hours later compared to those who drank a placebo.

Interestingly, another group of men drank pasteurized watermelon juice that had been enriched with nearly 5 grams of l-citrulline, and while they, too, experienced relief from muscle soreness, it was no more effective than the natural watermelon juice.

In fact, the researchers noted that consuming the l-citrulline in the unpasteurized watermelon juice was preferable: “L-citrulline bioavailability was greater when it was contained in a matrix of watermelon and when no heat treatment was applied.”

Watermelon Also Has Anti-Inflammatory Properties

Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), or the muscle soreness you’ve experienced one to two days after exercise, is actually caused by inflammation stemming from microscopic tears in your muscle fibres, or more specifically, microtears between your muscles and their surrounding tissues.

These damaged muscles release biochemical irritants that trigger mild inflammation, which awakens your pain receptors. In addition to its l-citrulline content, it could be that watermelon helps relieve muscle soreness because of its anti-inflammatory properties.

For instance, watermelon contains the anti-inflammatory antioxidant lycopene as well as cucurbitacin E, or tripterpenoid, which blocks the activity of the pain and inflammation-causing enzyme cyclooxygenase – the same enzyme blocked by so-called COX-2 inhibitors which include most NSAID drugs like aspirin and ibuprofen.

While watermelon does have beneficial nutrients, however, it might not be the best idea to drink it prior to each workout, as it contains a significant amount of fructose, which should be consumed only in limited amounts.

Watermelon is a melon, it is best to eat it one hour after any food, and not eat any food for an hour after you consume it, otherwise it can interfere with your digestion and may create stomach distress.

Additionally, although the study was done with watermelon juice, it is better if you eat the entire fruit and not juice it.