Creatine has helped millions achieve their fitness goals, but should motocross athletes be using it? Find the answers here!
By: Craig Stevenson B.P.E. (Hon)
For decades, I’ve been involved in formulating sports supplements with the ingredient creatine. Creatine can be used on its own or in formulas that include creatine such as mass gainers, pre-workout and post-workout recovery supplements. Creatine is so popular because it has been the subject of countless clinical trials on performance, muscle gain and what many people don’t know… brain health. Even though creatine has an incredible lineage, the question remains if it is right for motocross?
This commentary is not designed to be a technical, scientific review. You can simply search “Creatine Studies” online and find hundreds of studies and their results. This is a look into the needs of Motocross and other long-duration athletes that use their grip during the event.
Creatine 101 – The Basics
To answer the above question, we first have to know what creatine is and how it works in the body. Creatine is an amino acid that can be found in the muscle and the brain. Creatine is produced in the body by the liver, kidneys, and pancreas. Creatine’s primary function in the muscle is to restore the energy source which is known as Adenosine Triphosphate or ATP. ATP is the primary energy source used for muscle contractions. The theory was always if you increase the ATP stores, you can perform more work at a higher intensity, and muscles would get bigger and stronger.
In many studies, strength and size gains were shown. However, one significant “side effect” was an increase in water weight or cell volumization, simply meaning that creatine attracted water into and outside of the muscle, changing its size and shape. In short this was key factor in producing a swelling in and around muscles, commonly known as the “PUMP”. In technical terms, this is known a reperfusion hypertrophy. Bodybuilders then began to increase creatine doses as they searched for a bigger and more aggressive pumps.
PUMP – A Motocross Racer’s Worst Nightmare
At ACTIONETIX, we know how disastrous arm pump can be. It not only robs you of performance, it can create an extremely dangerous situation, particularly at high speed and on rough tracks. When arm pump becomes overwhelming, it changes the mechanics of your muscles so severely that they cannot contract properly and eventually you can’t hold on to the controls. Cell volumization, or the pump can literally destroy a good race or training session and put you in harms way.
Avoid Creatine… if You Want to Avoid ARM PUMP
In today’s day and age, creatine is being added to commercial hydration and energy drinks and many foods as well as traditional supplements like pre-workout and mass gainers. Reading the Nutrition or Supplement Facts on your drinks, supplements and food and verifying there is no creatine is becoming more and more important. Ingesting supplemental creatine can spell disaster for arm pump and overall performance. I agree that Creatine has its place and purpose for weight gain and athletics, but that place certainly is not in Motocross.