Muscle contraction during short intervals of intense exercise causes oxidative stress, which may influence the development of over-training symptoms, including increased fatigue, and may lead to micro-lesions or muscular inflammation. Due to antioxidant properties of hydrogen the effect of hydrogen rich water on oxidative stress and muscle fatigue in response to intense exercise have been assessed.
In sports medicine, hydrogen-based therapy may be an effective and specific innovative treatment to relieve oxidative stress as well as damage induced by exercise and sport and it can improve physical performance in athletes. (Ostojic, 2014)
Due to the beneficial effect of hydrogen in the treatment of inflammation, ischemia - reperfusion and oxidative stress in humans, hydrogen effectiveness in the treatment of soft tissue lesions has been assessed.
In the study of Ostojic et al. , hydrogen (both oral and topical) was administered for two weeks within a group of 36 professional athletes with soft tissue acute lesions. Comparison was made with a control group treated in the usual way. Those professional athletes treated with hydrogen, as well as with the usual procedure, felt a faster recovery and could move joints in the injured extremity sooner, both in extension and flexion. The study assesses the efficacy of adding hydrogen to standard therapy to treat soft tissue injuries in professional athletes.
The exercise can cause acidosis. Efficiency of hydrogen rich water in the alkalinization of blood has been postulated. Under this study 52 volunteers who practised sports, the intake of 2 litres of hydrogen water for 14 days increased the arterial blood pH significantly as well as the bicarbonate levels, showing its beneficial alkalizing effect.
Aoki et al. selected a group of 10 young players in order to conduct stress tests and to take blood samples. Each player was examined twice after taking hydrogen water or ordinary water (placebo) at weekly intervals by assessing the level of oxidative stress markers and creatine kinase (muscle damage marker) in blood. Intense exercise increased blood lactate levels in individuals taking ordinary water, while hydrogen water intake kept blood lactate at a lower level during intense exercise. In addition, the torsion peak in the placebo group decreased significantly during maximum isokinetic knee extension, thus indicating muscle fatigue, but it was not like that in the group who took hydrogen water.
These preliminary results suggest that adequate hydration with hydrogen rich water before exercise reduces blood lactate levels and improves muscle function and therefore can be beneficial for athletes.