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Research Brief: Protease Enhances Recovery From Damaging Exercise
Delayed onset muscle soreness, abbreviated DOMS, is all too common for seasoned athletes accustomed to pushing themselves hard during workouts. Intense exercise, especially the kind that emphasizes the eccentric or negative portion of the movement,results in greater DOMS.
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DOMS is associated with a complex biochemical series of events, as well as structural damage to the muscle fibers. The end result is a decreased force production capability, which means recovery is impaired and valuable training time is lost. Thus, targeted approaches to alleviate the extent of muscle damage are worthwhile because it will speed recovery and decrease the time needed in between workouts.

A recent study tested the effects of a unique supplement designed to decrease DOMS and accelerate recovery of muscle function. For 3 weeks, subjects randomly consumed either a placebo or a proteolytic supplement containing fungal proteases, bromelain, and papain. At the end of the three weeks of supplementation, subjects performed a damaging bout of downhill running to induce DOMS. Recovery of muscle function and blood tests were performed over the next 48 hours. The protease supplemented group showed higher force production during recovery compared to placebo. Protease supplementation was associated with significantly lower inflammation during recovery, perhaps due to less damage from exercise. Thus protease supplementation represents a potential nutritional strategy to speed recovery by alleviating inflammation and the decrease in strength after intense exercise.

Reference: Buford TW, Cooke MB, Redd LL, Hudson GM, Shelmadine BD, Willoughby DS. Protease Supplementation Improves Muscle Function after Eccentric Exercise. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2009 Sep 2