Luke Weyrauch ’13

Can the Buffering Effects of Sodium Bicarbonate Reduce Muscle Damage as Measured By Creatine Kinase?

High intensity exercise results in muscle damage, which may be reflected in elevated serum creatine kinase (CK). Sodium bicarbonate is a buffering agent that can be an effective ergogenic aid (Peart, D. et al., J Strength Cond. Res. 26:1975-83, 2012). 

Purpose: to investigate whether the buffering effects of sodium bicarbonate can minimize muscle damage.

Methods: Institutional Review Board approval was received for this research and all participants signed an informed consent. Recreationally active individuals (M = 12, F =8) completed a double blind crossover design consisting of two exercise trials involving going up and down stairs and push-ups to fatigue. Subjects consumed sodium bicarbonate (0.3g/kg body weight) for one trial (SB), and a placebo (0.045g NaCl/kg with club soda) for the other trial (P). Heart rate (HR), rate of perceived exertion (RPE), blood lactate (BL), and gastrointestinal (GI) distress (on a 0-10 scale) were measured before and after each trial. CK was measured before exercise and 48 hours post-exercise.  

Results: CK, HR, GI distress, RPE, and blood lactate were analyzed using a repeated measures ANOVA. Time and push-ups were analyzed using a paired t-test. GI distress was significantly higher in the SB trial pre- and post-exercise than in the P trial (SB: 2.6 + 2.0; 3.2 + 2.4. P: 0.8 + 0.9; 2.0 + 2.1. p < 0.05). BL was significantly higher post-exercise in the SB trial compared to the P trial (12.8 + 3.1; 9.8 + 3.2 mmol/L. p < 0.05). RPE was significantly lower in males post exercise in the SB trial compared to the P trial (8.5 + 0.7, 8.9 + 0.6. p < 0.05) but not in females. No significant differences existed in CK, time, push-ups, or HR between the two trials.

Conclusion: Sodium bicarbonate is an effective buffering agent and makes exercise seem less strenuous, as evidenced by the higher BL and lower RPE (in males) in the SB trial.  However, the GI distress associated with sodium bicarbonate reduces the potential of enhancing exercise.  The exercise protocol used failed to induce significant muscle damage; consequently no treatment effect was observed in CK.  In order to determine the possible protective effects of sodium bicarbonate against muscle damage, a more vigorous exercise protocol must be employed.

Luke Weyrauch was intending to present his research at the Northland Chapter of the American College of Sports Medicine but the conference was cancelled due to weather.

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Can the Buffering Effects of Sodium Bicarbonate Reduce Muscle Damage as Measured By Creatine Kinase?

Research Advisors: Amy Olson, PhD, RDN, LD and Manuel Campos, PhD, Biology