The effect of ethanol on exercise-induced muscle damage

J Stud Alcohol. 1990 Jan;51(1):19-23. doi: 10.15288/jsa.1990.51.19.


The effect of ethanol ingestion on exercise-induced muscle damage was examined. It has been reported that a reduced leakage of muscle proteins was found when alcohol was ingested prior to exercise. The results of that study were confounded by repeating the same exercise using the same muscle groups; the alcohol treatment was always given on the second exercise bout so that the reduced protein leakage may be due to a rapid training effect. The present study was designed to control for rapid training effect when examining the effects of ethanol ingestion on exercise-induced protein leakage from muscle. Also, this study examined the effect of acute ethanol ingestion on other indicators of muscle damage: force generation, muscle stiffness and muscle soreness. Ten women subjects performed two similar exercise regimens, one with each arm, separated by at least 10 days. Alcohol was ingested prior to exercising one arm and a nonalcoholic beverage ingested prior to exercising the contralateral arm. The exercises resulted in increased serum creatine kinase activity (p less than .05) and muscle pain (p less than .01), and decreased range of motion (p less than .01) and strength (p less than .01), indicating muscle damage. There was no significant difference between the alcohol and nonalcohol conditions for any criterion measure. It was concluded that acute ingestion of alcohol has no effect on several indicators of exercise-induced muscle damage.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking / physiology*
  • Creatine Kinase / blood
  • Ethanol / adverse effects*
  • Ethanol / pharmacokinetics
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Isometric Contraction / drug effects*
  • Muscle Contraction / drug effects*
  • Muscles / drug effects*


  • Ethanol
  • Creatine Kinase