For many people, the stiff and sore muscles following a workout are a sign that you did something right. While a little stiffness is one thing, groaning every time you lift your arms or take a seat is quite another. Fortunately for athletes and weekend gym-goers, scientists with Iran’s Isfahan University of Medical Sciences have found that taking as little as 1 teaspoon of two very common kitchen ingredients could significantly reduce that post-workout burn.
The study looked at the effects of cinnamon and ginger on 60 athletic women. The competitive Taekwondo players, ages 13 to 25, were divided into three groups. One group took three grams (less than one tsp.) of cinnamon daily, while another took the same amount of ginger, and the third received a daily placebo. Women were tested throughout the study for symptoms of muscle soreness and an inflammation indicator.
Both women in the ginger and women in the cinnamon group had “significantly less muscle soreness” after working out than those in the placebo group.
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Interestingly, however, despite the anti-inflammatory properties of both foods, the women didn’t have less of the inflammation marker than the placebo group. The researchers surmise the small dose may not have been enough to lessen the inflammation.
This research piggybacks on the countless studies showing the wide range of health benefits ginger and cinnamon. In addition to preventing muscle soreness, both spices may also work hand-in-hand to prevent cancer, reduce inflammation, protect against heart disease, protect against disease caused by bacteria, and boost the immune system overall. The health benefits of cinnamon are especially beneficial for diabetics.
If you are an athlete or just a weekend warrior in the gym, try adding a little bit of cinnamon to your breakfast (oatmeal, smoothie, or toast) or putting some grated ginger in your juice, tea or salad. Also, stay hydrated whether you are doing cardio or lifting weights. And because the study dose was less than a single teaspoon, this is a benefit you can begin reaping right away.