Creatine - Buffered - Reduces Incidence of Injuries and Dehydration in Athletes
Healthnotes Newswire (February 12, 2004) - Creatine supplementation may reduce the incidence of muscle cramping, tightness, strains, and may also prevent dehydration in college football players, reports a new study in the Journal of Athletic Training (2003;38:216-9). The athletes taking creatine also experienced fewer overall injuries than those who did not take the supplement.
Creatine (creatine monohydrate) is a substance made in the liver, pancreas, and kidneys that is mostly concentrated in muscle tissue. It provides one of the required fuels for muscle contraction and is an important substance for normal muscle function. Creatine has become a popular nutritional supplement among athletes due to its reported benefits in enhancing athletic performance and increasing muscle mass. However, most of the studies using creatine have examined the short-term effects of creatine supplementation. The new study is one of the first to evaluate the long-term effects of creatine supplementation on athletic performance.
In the new study, 72 college football players took a creatine monohydrate supplement or placebo for four months (the length of the football season). Those taking creatine took a larger initial amount (0.3 gram per kilogram of body weight) for the first five days and then a lower maintenance amount (0.03 gram per kilogram) thereafter. All types and nature of injuries were recorded during the four-month period and were categorized as cramping, heat-related disorders (dehydration, dizziness), muscle tightness, muscle strains, non-contact joint injuries, contact joint injuries, and other illnesses.
Athletes taking creatine had significantly less muscle cramping, muscle tightness, muscle strains, heat-related disorders, and total injuries, compared with those taking a placebo. Contact and non-contact joint injuries and other illnesses were not significantly different between the two groups. These findings suggest that creatine supplementation may help improve muscle function during intense training exercise and conditioning programs, although the exact mechanism of action remains unclear. No adverse side effects were reported among the men taking creatine.
The findings of the current study are similar to those reported in other recent studies that also suggest creatine reduces the rate of injuries during intense training. However, studies that specifically examined the effectiveness of creatine in boosting athletic performance have so far been inconsistent.
Several anecdotal reports have suggested that creatine monohydrate promotes dehydration. In turn, dehydration could lead to muscle tightness and cramping, as well as muscle or joint injury. However, the current study dispels these myths regarding creatine supplementation and demonstrates that the opposite effects occur with long-term use (for more than one month). Although it is relatively safe, those with kidney disease should consult their physician before taking creatine.
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