Fish oil–derived EPA and DHA were also found to attenuate strength loss and muscle soreness following exercise, according to researchers.
Researchers in Japan have published new study findings suggesting omega-3s derived from fish oil may offer joint and muscle-recovery benefits to men after exercise. Following maximal eccentric elbow flexion exercises, men supplementing with EPA and DHA omega-3s experienced significant increases to maximal voluntary contraction (MVC) and range of motion (ROM) compared to a placebo group.
The randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study included 24 healthy men with a mean age of 19.5 who consumed either fish oil supplements or a placebo for eight weeks prior to the exercise. The fish oil administration consisted of 600 mg EPA and 260 mg DHA per day in softgel capsule form, which were provided by Nippon Suisan Kaisha Ltd (Tokyo, Japan). After the initial eight weeks of supplementation, participants performed five sets of six maximal eccentric elbow flexion exercises, followed by an additional five days of supplementation.
Researchers assessed changes in MVC torque, ROM, upper arm circumference, and muscle soreness, as well as serum creatine kinase, Il-6, myoglobin, and TNF-α of participants before the exercise, immediately following the exercise, and 1, 2, 3, and 5 days after exercise.
At 2–5 days after exercise, MVC was found to be significantly higher in the omega-3 group than the placebo group, and at 1–5 days after exercise, ROM was also significantly higher in the omega-3 group than the placebo group. Muscle soreness of the brachialis was also found to be significantly greater in the placebo group than the EPA group at 3 days after exercise only, suggesting the EPA and DHA attenuated muscle soreness.
No changes were observed to peak torque, total work, muscle swelling, or any of the muscle damage–related proteins.
“Eight-week EPA and DHA supplementation attenuates strength loss and limited ROM after exercise,” researchers concluded. “The supplementation also attenuates muscle soreness and elevates cytokine level, but the effect is limited.”
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Tsuchiya Y et al., “Eicosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic acids-rich fish oil supplementation attenuates strength loss and limited joint range of motion after eccentric contractions: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel-group trial,” European Journal of Applied Physiology, vol. 116, no. 6 (June 2016): 1179–1188