Some studies have shown that creatine supplements can be effective in reducing inflammation.
Creatine supplements are most often used to increase athletic performance and muscle gain.
However, reduction of inflammation may be a positive side effect.
Reduced inflammation translates to less soreness and muscle pain after training, and a quicker recovery from exertion.
What causes muscle inflammation?
Myositis, or muscle inflammation, occurs when muscles become swollen, tender, and stiff. Causes of muscle inflammation generally fall into one of two categories: myositis as a result of physical activity, or myositis as a result of autoimmune disease.
For most, muscle inflammation is a result of physical activity. Athletes and soldiers commonly experience the pain and stiffness of muscle inflammation.
This could be due to overtraining on a consistent basis or overexertion in a particular event or exercise. Chronic inflammation can be frustrating, as it requires rest and recovery and limits the ability to train.
Of course, the first step to preventing and treating muscle inflammation is taking proper steps to train smart. According to the National Institutes of Health, this includes avoiding overexertion, knowing your limits, and always erring on the side of caution when engaging in physical activity.
What is creatine?
Creatine is a substance found naturally in our bodies. Creatine is located in muscle tissue and aids the body in producing ATP, the molecules that transmit energy within our cells.
Simply put, creatine gives our muscles more energy, which enables increased athletic performance. This can mean the ability to lift heavier weights, increased speed, and increased endurance.
Taking a creatine supplement boosts the level of creatine in muscles and enhances performance. Creatine supplements will increase your muscles’ ability to repair and regenerate, allowing them to grow faster.
Creatine is naturally found in meat. Those who eat a lot of meat will have more natural creatine than those who don't.
In fact, people who have a meat-heavy diet will likely not see dramatic effects from using creatine supplements. Their muscles are already loaded with naturally occurring creatine.
Like any dietary or performance supplement, creatine may not be for everyone. Be sure to consult your trainer and your physician prior to beginning any supplementation. A complete list of the potential side effects of creatine supplements can be found on WebMD.
Does creatine help with inflammation?
While reducing inflammation is not a primary use of creatine supplements, many users claim that it is a beneficial side effect. Numerous studies have been conducted to test the efficacy of creatine supplements in reducing inflammation.
One recent study compared two groups of triathlon athletes: one group was given creatine supplements during training, and the other group was given a placebo. After the intense physical exertion of a triathlon, the group given creatine showed measurably less inflammation in their muscles as compared to the placebo group.
The effectiveness of creatine supplements for reduction of inflammation has also been tested specifically with weightlifters. Researchers compared the effects of creatine supplementation in a test group to a control group given no creatine.
Both groups performed several sets of strenuous lifts. By measuring the amount of muscle enzymes released into the blood, researchers were able to confirm that the creatine supplement group saw less muscle inflammation than the control group.
Preliminary research has also shown that creatine can also be combined with non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory medications to increase their effectiveness.
How can creatine reduce inflammation?
Some of the same elements that enable creatine to enhance athletic performance could also contribute to the supplement’s ability to reduce inflammation. Just as creatine allows your muscles to work harder during training, it also enables them work harder to repair and regenerate during rest. This leads to a speedier recovery from intense exercise and decreased inflammation.
Creatine has also been shown to reduce lactic acid, another culprit in muscle soreness. Lactic acid is an energy-waste byproduct that causes fatigue and tenderness in muscles. Reducing lactic acid with creatine supplements can reduce inflammation, and decrease recovery time.
While creatine can have positive effects including energy and strength gains and decreased inflammation, it may not be for everyone. Creatine’s effectiveness has not been proven in endurance activities and is more effective for weight training than for cardio training.
Decreased inflammation can have many positive effects for an athlete besides just feeling less sore. With less time needed to rest and recover after exertion, it is possible to train more often and reap more benefit from your workouts.