A plant based diet is reported to speed recovery and as a living example I do believe that when I'm being careful with nutrition I do recover quickly. Having said that I still suffer from muscle soreness. Maybe it would be worse on a meat eating diet, I'll never know. I've also toyed with turmeric as a natural anti-inflammatory but even though I don't deny its a healthy and probably helpful addition to an athletes diet, it didn't seem to alleviate soreness during my marathon training.
I don't take Advil or drugs like that to avoid pain. To each their own, but I don't really believe it's a good idea for our health to be popping pills as a preventative measure during long runs.
The tart cherry juice experiment seemed like a worthwhile test. For the past week and a half I've been taking one tablespoon before and after both my runs and boxing classes. I've forgotten to take it only once.
The juice tastes fine on its own but I've been mixing it with short water glasses. The 16 ounce bottle I purchased was organic and cost $18. The ingredients were "organic certified tart cherry juice concentrate" and apparently each tablespoon is the equivalent of about 40 cherries. The bottle states that it's a natural source of melatonin and has anti-inflammatory and antioxative properties. For you sugar conscious folks out there you should note that each tablespoon has 7g of sugar and about 30 calories.
I'm conscious of (and a big fan of) placebo affects but my biggest feeling of validity for tart cherry juice claims came on the day after I forgot to take it. I was sore that day and talking to some people about the experiment when I remembered I'd forgotten to take it. I'm certainly not marathon training right now but I have had some tough workouts, runs and have picked up a regular boxing class.
As I type this I'm two days removed (that's usually when soreness really gets me, 2 days after a hard workout) from a 2.5 hour boxing class which ended with 550 squats and 550 heavy bag punches that left me breathless. This was after running a track interval workout on the same day. I have no soreness and was able to go for a run up the local mountain today with no pain. While I've been taking the juice I've had times when I've been physically tired but other than the day I forgot to take the cherry juice I've experienced no muscle soreness.
10 days of tart cherry juice usage for one person hardly makes for a scientific study but I'm leaning toward believing this is more than a simple placebo. I suspect it wouldn't be bulletproof if my mileage increased to what it was this spring but even if it helped alleviate soreness wouldn't it be worth it?
My vote goes for giving this a try. It's the first time I can recall hearing of a study purporting to reduce inflammation and soreness and actually feeling a benefit quickly and substantially.