Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is a symptom of exercise-induced muscle damage that occurs following exercise. Previous research has indicated that branched-chain amino acid (BCAA) supplementation may attenuate exercise-induced muscle damage that causes delayed onset muscle soreness, however the results are inconsistent. The primary aim of this study was to examine the previous literature assessing the effect of BCAA supplementation on DOMS following an acute bout of exercise in adults. This review was conducted in accordance with PRISMA guidelines (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analyses), and identified peer-reviewed articles comparing a BCAA supplement to a placebo non-BCAA supplement following an acute bout of exercise. An electronic search of three databases (EbscoHost, Web of Science, and SPORTDiscus) yielded 42 articles after duplicates were removed. All studies included in the current analyis were: 1) peer-reviewed publications; 2) available in English; 3) utilized a random control design that compared a BCAA group to a placebo control group following exercise; 4) and assessed soreness of muscle tissue during recovery. DOMS was assessed in 61 participants following ingestion of a BCAA supplement over the course of these interventions. The cumulative results of 37 effects gathered from 8 studies published between 2007 and 2017 indicated that BCAA supplementation reduced DOMS following exercise training (ES = 0.7286, 95% CI: 0.5017 to 0.9555, p < 0.001). A large decrease in DOMS occurs following BCAA supplementation after exercise compared to a placebo supplement.
Keywords: branched-chain amino acid; delayed onset muscle soreness; exercise training; meta-analysis; systematic review.