Athletes have long been known to come up with some pretty creative food and beverage solutions (pickle juice, anyone?), but new research suggests one homemade remedy for muscle soreness may have science on its side. Watermelon juice may just be the tastiest source of relief ever.
In a very small new study, researchers monitored seven athletes after intense exercise. On different days, the athletes had been given watermelon juice, enriched watermelon juice or a placebo drink before their workouts. The athletes reported less muscle soreness on days they drank watermelon juice.
The authors of the study, published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, attribute this relief to an amino acid called L-citrulline, which has been used as a supplement for decades and is thought to improve athletic performance, according to WebMD. "Drinking it may help your muscles get more oxygen, which means they can repair themselves faster," Women's Health reported.
The study is the first to examine the difference between naturally-occurring L-citrulline and the amino acid in supplement form. The authors write that the L-citrulline in the natural watermelon juice seemed to be more bioavailable, meaning the body could use it more easily.
This study is not the first to examine juice's pain-relieving powers. Some previous research has indicated that drinking tart cherry juice, most likely because it contains protective antioxidants called anthocyanins, can minimize inflammation, reduce muscle damage and limit muscle pain, Greatist reported.
An experiment among seven athletes may not paint the whole picture; further research is definitely still needed. But with 92 percent water, lycopene, beta carotene, vitamins A and C and very few calories, a little pressed watermelon juice certainly couldn't hurt!