MSM and Exercise Recovery

Brittany Mock Headshot
By: Brittany Mock

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We all know how it feels to try to squat on the toilet seat after a leg day at the gym. If it was a hard enough workout, we are usually feeling the burn from the oxidative stress and damage to our skeletal tissues. Fortunately, many of us have found what helps alleviate these symptoms such as an improved diet, stretching, increased water intake, walking, etc. Lately, researchers have been observing the effects of a certain compound that may ease the pain and reduce recovery time following a hard workout. This compound, formally called methylsulfonylmethane or more commonly known as MSM, is a naturally occurring compound found in all plants and animals. It is composed of sulfur, oxygen, and methyl groups. MSM is already known to contain many antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, like playing a role in the synthesis of glutathione, which is one of the most important intracellular antioxidants. Additionally, this sulfur compound is commonly used to treat arthritis, taken orally or directly on the skin to reduce inflammation.

In a study done with 24 jumping horses, the horses were administered 3 different supplementations. One group was the control group with no supplementation of MSM or Vitamin C. The next group was given MSM, and the third group was administered both MSM and Vitamin C. Blood samples were collected periodically and tested for nitric oxide, carbon monoxide, lipid hydroperoxides and the antioxidant enzymes, glutathione peroxidase, and other factors that would indicate exercise effects. All of the horses showed some negative effects from the jumping in the experiment.

However, it appeared that the horses who took MSM actually had completely recovered from the damages that the jumping caused. It was concluded that MSM actually can offer some protective qualities against oxidative stress during exercise for horses, thus, reducing the recovery times.

A study was also done with 8 healthy men who were moderately exercise trained at

So, is MSM the answer to all of our gym lovers out there who just can’t take a day off? Well, not exactly. More studies with larger sample sizes need to be done to further confirm these findings of the smaller studies. In the meantime, we can note that MSM occurs naturally in some foods that we eat, such as fruit, corn, tomatoes, tea, coffee, and milk. Keep that in mind next time you are choosing a post-workout meal!


References:

  1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2586020/
  2. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3507661/
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