Caffeine lowers muscle pain during exercise in hot but not cool environments.Physiol Behav. 2011 Mar 01; 102(3-4):429-35.PB
Caffeine (CAF) ingestion may enhance endurance exercise by lowering perceived exertion (RPE) and muscle pain. However, exercise in the heat may be detrimental to performance by increasing RPE and pain. The purpose of this study was to examine if caffeine affects pain and related perceptual responses differently in cool and hot ambient conditions. Eleven male cyclists (mean ± SD; age, 25 ± 6 years; mass, 72.6 ± 8.1 kg; VO(2max), 58.7 ± 2.9 ml kg(-1) min(-1)) completed four trials in a randomized, double blind design. While remaining euhydrated, subjects cycled for 90 min at 65 ± 7% VO(2max) followed by a 15-min performance trial. Subjects ingested 3 mg kg(-1) of encapsulated caffeine (CAF) or placebo (PLA) 60 min before and 45 after beginning exercise in 12°C and 33°C (i.e., 12-CAF, 33-CAF, 12-PLA, and 33-PLA trials). Central, local, and overall perceived exertion (C-, L-, and O-RPE) and pain were measured throughout exercise. Throughout submaximal exercise C-, L-, and O-RPE were significantly greater in 33°C (P<0.05) but were not affected by CAF (P>0.05). Using area-under-the-curve analysis, pain in 33-PLA was increased by 74% vs 12-PLA (P<0.05). CAF did not reduce pain in 12°C (P=0.542), but in 33°C, CAF reduced pain by 27% (P=0.032). Despite this apparent advantage, CAF improved performance independent of ambient temperature (i.e., non-significant interaction; P=0.662). This study found that, although caffeine improves exercise capacity, its effect on leg muscle pain is dependent on ambient temperature. Although exercise in the heat increases muscle pain compared to a cooler environment, caffeine reduces this pain.