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Influence of Menthol on Recovery From Exercise-Induced Muscle Damage

Gillis, D. Jason1; Vellante, Aurora1; Gallo, Joseph A.2; D'Amico, Anthony P.1

The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: August 29, 2018 - Volume Publish Ahead of Print - Issue - p
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000002833
Original Research: PDF Only

Gillis, DJ, Vellante, A, Gallo, JA, and D'Amico, AP. Influence of menthol on recovery from exercise-induced muscle damage. J Strength Cond Res XX(X): 000–000, 2018—This study assessed the influence of menthol, a cold receptor agonist, on recovery from exercise-induced muscle damage (EIMD). Forty-seven healthy males were allocated to a Control (CON, n = 18), Placebo (P, n = 14), or 4.0% Menthol (M, n = 15) condition. Participants were familiarized with a testing battery (TB) including: perception of lower-body muscle soreness, hip flexion/abduction range of motion, vertical jump (VJ), and the agility T-test. Muscle damage was induced on day 1 using 40 × 15-m sprints with a 5-m deceleration zone. The TB immediately followed this and was repeated once-daily for 5 days. Over this time, participants in M and P applied gels to the lower body immediately after sprinting and twice-daily thereafter, whereas CON did nothing. Dependent variables were compared by condition using the Kruskal-Wallis test (α = 0.05), and mean differences with 90% confidence intervals were calculated with small, moderate, and large effects. A significant difference by condition (p < 0.05) in muscle soreness was found, and moderate to large effects were observed in the reduction of muscle soreness with P, compared with M or CON, indicating a placebo effect. A reduction in VJ height across all conditions was observed, with a significant effect (p < 0.05) by condition, and moderate to large effects (1–5 cm) were observed in its preservation with menthol, compared with P or CON. No other differences were observed. These findings raise the possibility that menthol influences recovery of lower-body power after EIMD, and this may have practical implications for menthol's use when recovery of muscle power is important.

1Human Performance Laboratory, Department of Sport and Movement Science, Salem State University, Salem, Massachusetts; and

2Athletic Training, Department of Sport and Movement Science, Salem State University, Salem, Massachusetts

Address correspondence to Dr. D. Jason Gillis,

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