9/27/12

Caffeine And Your Recovery


I will be writing this post a bit different from my other ones. Normally I already know what science supports and then look up the finite details to write a post. This time you will follow me from hypothesis to conclusion [this will just be the short version].

Hypothesis:
Caffeine decreases the bodies ability to heal during an injury, muscular or tendon, due to it's vasocinstrictive properties. By decreasing flow of nutrients the injury will receive less of what it needs for healing. A decrease in Oxygen can lead to secondary hypoxia. This is more crucial within the first 48 hours of inflammation and healing.



Research:
Caffeine is a white, bitter crystalline alkaloid derived from coffee or tea. It belongs to a class of compounds called xanthines, its chemical formula being 1,3,7-trimethylxanthine. Caffeine is classified together with cocaine and amphetamines as an analeptic, or central nervous system stimulant[1].

When the caffeine reaches the brain , it increases the secretion of norepinephrine, a neurotransmitter that is associated with the so-called fight or flight stress response. The rise in norepinephrine levels and the increased activity of the neurons, or nerve cells, in many other areas of the brain helps to explain why the symptoms of caffeine intoxication resemble the symptoms of a panic attack .

One research study conducted found that when caffeine was consumed there was significant vasoconstriction and mean arterial pressure increase (MAP) [2]. As stated above vasoconstriction may inhibit the bodies ability to heal early on with injuries.

Pressure. When pressure at the wound site is excessive or sustained, the blood supply to the capillary network may be disrupted. This impedes blood flow to the surrounding tissue and delays healing.[3]

If two plus two equals four, then caffeine causing increased vasoconstriction plus increased blood pressure causing disrupted blood flow equals delayed healing. However, I could not find isolated evidence of this pertaining towards large muscle groups or tendons.

Hypoxia is the deficiency of oxygen reaching tissue. I found that one study conducted on pregnant woman showed that caffeine consumption lead to hypoxia of the infant [4] This is probably the reason why woman shouldn't drink caffeine when they're pregnant. We also know that caffeine does not have to be broken down in the gut and can pass the blood placenta membrane. In theory, and this may be a bit of a leap, intake of caffeine within the crucial 48 hour healing period of an injury can result in increased hypoxia to the damaged area.

Of the two area's of recovery we discussed, the conclusions were similar to the hypothesis claim. By having increased consumption of caffeine around the time of an injury can result in delayed and impaired healing.

Do I like these results? No of course not, I use caffeine to muscle my way through college. Based on the above it seems we should avoid caffeine for a few days within an injury. This is not finite in any way because I saw no research completely backing this claim. If you have any malice towards my claim then please comment below. Maybe you have your own hypothesis but lack a college funded database to research on. Comment that below too. [raises coffee cup] A toast to the pursuit of knowledge.



  1. Frey, Rebecca J. (2003) Gale Encyclopedia of Mental Disorders
  2. Terai NSpoerl EPillunat LEStodtmeister R. (2012) The effect of caffeine on retinal vessel diameter in young healthy subjects.
  3. Hess CT. Clinical Guide to Skin and Wound Care. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2008
  4. Momoi NTinney JPKeller BBTobita K. (2012) Maternal hypoxia and caffeine exposure depress fetal cardiovascular function during primary organogenesis.


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About Me

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BS, MS - exercise Physiology
EPC - Board Certified Exercise Physiologist

Published Thesis
The impact of three different forms of warm up on performance

Graduate from Midwestern State University, founder of Endunamoo Barbell Club, and Endunamoo Strength and Conditioning. Working to help athletes physically reach their goals and achieve scholarships while spiritually pouring into as many people as possible on all platforms.