Many of us stop for a daily cup of Joe before hitting the gym in the morning, but it turns out there may be a real, true physical benefit to our attraction to this dose of caffeine before a workout: you are experiencing less pain during your workout with caffeine. Though, it's becoming increasingly common for athletes, before competing, to consume a variety of substances that include caffeine, motivated by "the notion that it will help you metabolize fat more readily, the research isn't very compelling. But new evidence is showing that while people are doing it for that reason, they actually take that substance that has caffeine and can push themselves harder with less pain.
So what the heck is caffeine doing in there? Well, caffeine works on the adenosine neuromodulatory system in the brain and spinal cord, and this system is heavily involved in nociception and pain processing. And since caffeine blocks adenosine from working, it can reduce pain. This latest study on the effects of caffeine on pain during exercise appears in the April edition of the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism and looks at the effects of caffeine on muscle pain during high-intensity exercise as a function of habitual caffeine use. In addition to this finding, the scientists found that those who do not regularly consume caffeine and habitual users have the same amount of reduction in pain during exercise after caffeine (consumption). And what's interesting is that caffeine tolerance doesn't matter/ is not ubiquitous across all physical stimuli.
For their next study, the scientists will try to get at the biological mechanism of this interesting finding among habitual and non-habitual users, they can understand why there may or may not be this kind of tolerance. So what can we do with this information while we wait? One practical application is if you go to the gym and you exercise and it hurts, you may be prone to stop doing that with caffeine and maybe that would help them stick with that exercise.