The caffeine equivalent of two cups of coffee appears to alleviate muscle pain caused by exercise, according to a new study.

In the study, college-age women who were not regular caffeine users and did not engage in regular resistance training either consumed caffeine or a placebo one hour before performing targeted quadriceps exercises. The women who took caffeine experienced a 48-reduction in pain compared to the placebo group.

A previous study found caffeine effective at reducing thigh pain during moderate-intensity cycling. Combined with this study, researchers surmised that caffeine blocks the body’s receptors for adenosine, a chemical released during inflammation.

“A lot of times what people use for muscle pain is aspirin or ibuprofen, but caffeine seems to work better than those drugs, at least among women whose daily caffeine consumption is low,” said study co-author Patrick O’Connor, a professor at the University of Georgia. The study is to be published in the February issue of The Journal of Pain.

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