Recover Quickly From Muscle Soreness

Written by OmegaXL on February 9, 2016

Omega-3 supplements and amino acids aid muscle recoveryBy Dr. Karen Vieira Ph.D.

Regular exercise, especially intense activity such as athletic running, typically leads to small tears in muscle tissue that causes delayed onset muscle soreness which often begins shortly after the activity or about 3 days later, according to Dr. Paul Lewis of the Rush University Medical Center [1]. Runners, in particular, tend to have more problems with muscle soreness than individuals who engage in cycling, swimming, or rowing, for example, because of the rapid, repetitive extension and contractions of the leg muscles as well as the increased pressure that is placed on the foot from contact with the ground [2].

Furthermore, Dr. Glyn Howatson who was previously affiliated with St. Mary’s University College, but currently collaborates with other researchers at the English Institute of Sport, explains that “delayed muscle soreness negatively impacts performance” because an individual cannot workout properly if the muscles are not given enough time to heal between sessions [3]. Do you frequently experience muscle soreness shortly after exercising or sometimes have to stop while working out due to muscle pain? You may be able to avoid this type of discomfort by making a few simple changes to your diet.

There are several strategies that are showing promise in both preventing and improving muscle soreness after working out. Research that Dr. Howatson and his colleagues conducted at the St. Mary’s University College showed that taking beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate and antioxidants as well as protein before and after exercising can help reduce muscle soreness [3]. Beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate is a derivative of an essential amino acid called leucine. According to Dr. Eva Blomstrand from the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, and her research colleagues, the body needs an adequate, daily supply of amino acids such as leucine in order to promote the repair and growth of muscle tissue [4].

Proteins are also broken down by stomach acid into amino acids that can be used to promote recovery from muscle soreness [5]. You may have previously heard that protein supplements are helpful for individuals who exercise regularly, now you have a better understanding of why they can be so beneficial. Dr. Jill Kanaley of Syracuse University in New York also explains that additional amino acids which can help people avoid muscle pain by promoting growth and repair are arginine and glutamine [6]. The body uses these amino acids as an energy source during exercise as well.

Glutamine, in particular, helps balance the acid-to-base levels in the kidney, which reduces the build-up of lactic acid in the muscles. Lactic acid build-up can lead to pain that often causes people to interrupt their exercise session [7]. This means that the pain you may of experience while working out is often due to an acid/base imbalance that can be avoided by taking an amino acid or protein supplement beforehand.

Dr. Klaus Baum from the Training Institute in Germany as well as his collaborators published a study which showed that fish oil supplements contain omega-3 fatty acids that support the prevention of muscle pain due to exercise; heighten energy levels, stamina, and workout performance; and improve the body’s ability to use proteins that decrease the occurrence of muscle soreness after a workout [8]. More specifically, omega-3 fatty acids contain essential components that enhance the activity of proteins that decrease the occurrence of muscle tears and inflammation that can develop during exercise. Therefore, taking supplements that contain amino acids, protein, and omega-3 fatty acids before and after working out may promote a quicker recovery from muscle soreness.


  1. Lewis PB, Ruby D, Bush-Joseph CA. Muscle soreness and delayed-onset muscle soreness. Clin Sports Med. 2012;31(2):255–262.
  2. Newham DJ, McPhail G, Mills KR, Edwards RH. Ultrastructural changes after concentric and eccentric contractions of human muscle. J Neurol Sci. 1983;61(1):109–122.
  3. Howatson G, van Someren KA. The prevention and treatment of exercise-induced muscle damage. Sports Med. 2008;38(6):483–503.
  4. Blomstrand E, Eliasson J, Karlsson HK, Kohnke R. Branched-chain amino acids activate key enzymes in protein synthesis after physical exercise. J Nutr. Jan 2006;136(1 Suppl):269S-273S.
  5. Schaafsma G. The protein digestibility-corrected amino acid score. J Nutr. Jul 2000;130(7):1865S-1867S.
  1. Kanaley JA (2008). Growth hormone, arginine and exercise. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care, 11(1):50-54.
  2. Cairns SP. (2006). Lactic acid and exercise performance: Culprit or friend? Sports Med, 36(4):279-291.
  3. Baum K, Telford RD, Cunningham RB. Marine oil dietary supplementation reduces delayed onset muscle soreness after a 30 km run. Open Access J Sports Med. 2013; 4:109-15.