Probiotics may reduce muscle fatigue, improve recovery: RCT

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

© ZamoraA / Getty Images
© ZamoraA / Getty Images

Related tags Probiotics athletic performance recovery Sports nutrition

Daily supplementation with a specific probiotic strain may reduce muscle fatigue and improve recovery after a half marathon, says a new study from Taiwan.

Four weeks of supplementation with Lactiplantibacillus plantarum​ subsp. plantarum​ PS128 (formerly known as Lactobacillus plantarum​ PS128) prior to running a half marathon prevented decreases in a range of measures, including neuromuscular efficiency, after a half-marathon.

“The PS128 supplementation might prevent the decrease in MDF [median power frequency], iEMG [integrated electromyography], and peak torque after HM [half-marathon],” wrote researchers from The University of Taipei and Tamkang University.

“Consequently, recreational runners might contemplate the adoption of a probiotic supplementation protocol as a prospective strategy to mitigate muscle fatigue after HM. It was advised that recreational runners consider a 4-week probiotic supplementation regimen to mitigate post-HM muscle fatigue.”

The microbiome and athletic performance

Interest in how the gut microbiome is linked to athletic performance – and the potential of modulation of the microbiota via pre- and probiotics to boost performance – is an area of increasing interest.

An extensive review of the athletic gut microbiota (Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition​, 2020, Vol. 17, Article No: 24) found that much of the human research into the athletic microbiome has been done only recently.

Starting in 2014 in Ireland with a study on rugby players, 10 studies have looked into gut microbiome makeup among athletes, and seven of those have been published in just the past two years.  In addition to the rugby players, subjects have included professional cyclists, elite distance runners, competitive walkers and Olympic rowers.

Understanding that the gut microbiome of elite athletes is more diverse and displays a higher abundance of health-promoting bacterial species is only half of the discussion, however. The next question is whether it could be possible to mine these elite microbiomes for potential novel probiotic strains.

The new study looked at the potential of L. plantarum​ PS128 to reduce muscle fatigue after a half-marathon.

Study details

The Taiwan-based scientists recruited 16 people to participate in the double-blind, repeated-measures study. The volunteers were randomly divided into two groups: One group received the probiotics PS128 and the other received placebo for four weeks prior to running a half-marathon. This was followed by a three-month washout period and then they were crossed over to the other group for a further four weeks and then another half-marathon.

The results showed that the probiotic was associated with a range of protective effects in the days following the half-marathon, indicating that PS128 supplementation may be a potential strategy to mitigate muscle fatigue following a half-marathon.

Source: Frontiers in Physiology
2023, Volume 14, doi: 10.3389/fphys.2023.1254985
“Effect of​ Lactobacillus plantarum PS128 on neuromuscular efficiency after a half-marathon”
Authors: C-H. Yu et al.

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