I took creatine and I got injured. Anybody who has spent time in a gym has heard this or similar statements from people who use creatine monohydrate supplements. But, does creatine really increase the risk of muscle injuries? Here are the facts:
Creatine is a naturally occurring substance in our bodies. Creatine is not a steroid. On average we make 1-2 grams of creatine every day.
Even though creatine first started to get popular in the early 1990s, creatine supplements have been studied for at least 50 years. There are hundreds –if not thousands –of studies on creatine in existence. There are creatine studies in both men and women. There are studies performed on people who lift weights and take creatine and studies of those who do not lift weights. There are studies in athletes and non athletes.
I've read a good amount creatine research over the years and there is one thing that I never see in any of these studies.
I have never seen a creatine study that found that this supplement increased injuries. I've never seen a study that found creatine caused muscle tears or tendon tears – or any other injury for that matter.
So, why do people say that creatine does this?
This is what I think is going on. When people use a creatine supplement, it causes the muscles to become more powerful. At least one study of creatine supplementation found that the loading phase ramped up power after only 5 days! That’s impressive.
Creatine only makes muscles more powerful. It doesn't make tendons or ligaments stronger.
Weight lifters need to remember that muscles adapt to exercise quickly because they have very good access to blood and all of its nutrients. The connective tissues of the body – ligaments and tendons – take longer to increase strength. That’s because they don’t have a direct blood supply.
This means that while creatine may allow the muscles to handle more weight, it doesn't do the same thing in the ligaments and tendons. As such, it takes them longer to adapt.
If you were wondering do I need to cycle creatine read my review for more insight on this.
So basically, people who say creatine caused their injury are wrong. Creatine didn’t do it. They did it to themselves by accident because they advanced their exercise program too fast for their body to adapt.
The majority of research studies do not find increased injuries with creatine supplements because these studies are conducted under strict laboratory conditions.
The people in these studies take a pre-determined about of creatine (usually 5 to 25 grams per day) and lift weights under the guidance of trained exercise professionals. The exercise program is monitored and altered in accordance with sound exercise principles to reduce the risk of injury.
Contrast this with what happens in the “real world”:
- Bob gets creatine from GNC, and does the loading phase (or more) for a week and quickly discovers that he can lift more weight.
- Bob gets excited and then starts increasing the weight more than he should.
- Bob’s tendons and ligaments have not gotten stronger from creatine and so Bob gets hurt.
- Bob then tells his friends that creatine caused his injury.
After spending countless hours reading through creatine research, I feel that in healthy people, creatine is one of the safest muscle building supplements on the market today. I am very confident that if used properly, in conjunction with a sound exercise program, that it does not cause injuries.
What do you think?