Fish oil decreases muscle stiffness after exercise

Although the mechanism is unclear, EPA and DHA supplementation from fish oil may inhibit muscle damage after exercise by protecting the muscle cell membrane and promoting an anti-inflammatory response.

Previous studies have shown that EPA and DHA supplementation inhibited muscle damage after eccentric contractions (ECCs). Think of ECCs as doing a slow biceps curl in the downward or reverse direction. Recent studies have revealed that ECCs typically cause an increase in muscle stiffness.

Researchers split 16 men into two groups: a placebo group and a fish oil group. They consumed either 600 mg EPA and 260 mg DHA per day or placebo supplement for 8 weeks. After the supplementation period, they performed six sets of 10 ECCs at 100% maximal voluntary contraction (MVC) using a dumbbell. Changes in torque, range of motion, muscle soreness, muscle stiffness and more were assessed before exercise; immediately after exercise; and 1, 2, and 5 days after exercise.

MVC torque and range of motion were significantly higher in the fish oil group than in the placebo group after exercise. Muscle soreness was also significantly higher in the placebo group than in the fish oil group after exercise. In addition, muscle stiffness at 150° was significantly higher in the placebo group than in the fish oil group immediately after exercise.

In summary, fish oil (EPA and DHA) supplementation inhibited muscle stiffness. In addition, fish oil supplementation for 8 weeks inhibited the loss of muscle strength, limitation in range of motion and development of muscle soreness. These results may be significant in identifying the mechanism associated with the preventive effect of EPA and DHA supplementation on muscle damage.

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