Post-match drinks bad for muscle recovery - study

Sports people beware - that post match beer could cost you the next match.

A Massey University student has found alcohol stunts muscle recovery and its effects can last for days.

BSc Honours candidate Matt Barnes recruited recreational sportsmen, putting them through a gruelling resistance training session before offering them one of two drinks.

The first group drank juice. The second had "a moderate amount" of alcohol added, equivalent to about six or seven standard drinks over two or three hours.

He then tested the athletes' performance at 36 hours and 60 hours after the first workout.

"With the alcohol the loss of muscle performance was far greater - nearly twice as much," Mr Barnes said.

"Normally you would expect to see weakness or loss in performance after strenuous exercise, but the alcohol really exacerbated that."

"(Even) two mornings and three mornings later.

"I would say if you are serious about your sport you shouldn't be drinking alcohol in the post-match or recovery period."

Steve Stannard, co-director of Sport and Exercise Science at Massey, said there had been little research into the effects of alcohol on recovery times despite the long-standing association between sports and drinking in New Zealand.

"Rugby is the most obvious. They go after training or the match to the pub or club to socialise or celebrate. In fact some coaches encourage that - I've even been told by a high profile coach that `the spirit of the team is at the bottom of the bottle'."

There have been a number of New Zealand sporting heroes caught out through their drinking habits recently.

Black Caps batsman Jesse Ryder and All Black halfback Jimmy Cowan have both admitted to battling with drinking problems, with the New Zealand Rugby Union including a contract clause barring Cowan from consuming alcohol.

Dr Stannard said work was now under way on a follow-up study which would look at why recovery was affected and to examine the whole body's reaction to booze, not just muscles.


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