Effectiveness of Ginger Root (Zingiber officinale) on Running-Induced Muscle Soreness and Function: A Pilot Study

in International Journal of Athletic Therapy and Training
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Context:

Analgesics are commonly used by individuals undertaking endurance training; unfortunately, many commonly-used analgesics cause significant adverse effects. Ginger root (Zingiber officinale) has been used effectively as an analgesic in several contexts, but to date, no research is available to evaluate ginger root’s effects in the context of endurance training.

Objective:

Determine whether ginger root supplementation reduces muscle soreness and prevents impairments in muscle function following a long-distance training run.

Design:

Randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial.

Setting:

University marathon training course.

Participants:

Twenty college students (n = 8 for ginger root group and n = 12 for placebo group).

Intervention:

Supplementation with 2.2 g·day–1 of ginger root or placebo for three days before, the day of, and the day after a 20–22 mile training run.

Main Outcome Measures:

Four days before and 24-hr postrun, participants rated soreness on a 100-mm visual analog scale, while vertical jump (VJ), peak force, and average rate of force development (RFD) were assessed during a squat jump. Quade’s rank analysis of covariance was used to assess between-group differences.

Results:

Median (range) soreness during jogging at 24-hr postrun was lower with ginger root supplementation (37 mm, 15–58) compared with placebo (62 mm, 6–85) (F = 4.6, p = .04). No significant differences for VJ, peak force, and RFD were found between groups.

Conclusions:

Ginger root may modestly reduce muscle soreness stemming from long-distance running, although it may have little to no effect on measures of muscle function during a VJ. Future studies should explore the mechanisms responsible for reductions in running-induced muscle soreness, as well as evaluate the benefit-to-risk profile of ginger root in the context of endurance training.

Patrick B. Wilson is an assistant professor in the Department of Human Movement Sciences, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA.

John S. Fitzgerald is an assistant professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Public Health Education, University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, ND.

Gregory S. Rhodes is a PhD candidate at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, and a visiting lecturer at Fort Lewis College, Durango, CO.

Chris J. Lundstrom is a lecturer in the School of Kinesiology, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN.

Stacy J. Ingraham is a professor at Crown College, St. Bonifacius, MN.