Some love it, some hate it, but no matter what your feeling towards it, delayed onset muscle soreness, or DOMS, is an unavoidable part of training. DOMS are usually felt the most when you go back to the gym after a period of not training or when you switch up your training program, but wouldn’t it be great if you were somehow able to ease this muscle soreness? Well, if you are the type who strongly dislikes the effect of DOMS, then I have some good news for you. According to sports scientists at the University of Georgia, taking a ginger supplement may help you to reduce muscle soreness.

Ginger has been used by Ayurvedic healers as a pain killer for centuries and while this was only thought to work due to the placebo effect, molecular research has indicated otherwise.

In test-tube studies, ginger has been shown to do the following:

  • It inhibits the production of inflammatory enzymes COX-1 and COX-2
  • It impedes the inflammatory factors interleukine-1 and 12, leukotriene and TNF-alpha in immune cells.
  • It inhibits the pain receptor TRPV1.

The ingredients which are thought to be responsible for these effects are 6-gingerol, 8-gingerol, 10-gingerol and 6-shogaol. Just one gram of prepared ginger contains the following amounts of these active ingredients:

= 3mg
= 1mg
= 1.5mg
= 2.5mg

If ginger is taken in extract form, these substances will be in far higher concentrations.

When it comes to the painkilling ability of ginger, it is the shogaols (formed by heating gingerols) which are responsible for this. This was noted in two experiments where one saw 30 test subjects take supplements containing raw ginger while the other saw the individuals take ginger which had been cooked for 3 hours.

Each test subject took 2g of ginger, or a placebo, per day for a total of 11 days. On day 8 the researchers got the untrained test subjects to perform weight training which targeted their biceps. On day 9, 10 and 11, the researchers measured the muscle soreness of the test subjects. As you can see from the results below, the individuals who took ginger daily suffered less from the effects of DOMS than those who took the placebo.

Although the effects of DOMS were reduced in the ginger users, researchers weren’t able to figure out exactly how the ginger worked. While they did notice that the blood of the ginger users contained less PGE2 (an inflammatory factor produced by COX-2), the reduction was not significant enough to explain the painkilling ability of ginger.


If you are battle with serious DOMS and are looking for a natural pain reducing compound, then make sure to consume at least 2 grams of prepared ginger per day.

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