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? Do you even need this amino acid supplement? In this review, I give you the facts you need to know.
What is Creatine?
Creatine is a naturally occurring substance in our bodies. It's actually an amino acid. Contrary to what some believe, it's not a steroid. On average we make 1-2 grams of creatine every day. Its also found in different animal foods (chicken, steak, fish, turkey, etc.), although in small amounts. Most people get about 1-2 grams per day. Vegetables do not have this compound. As such vegetarians and vegans consume less than meat-eaters and omnivores do.
Even though creatine first started to get popular in the early 1990s, the supplements have been studied for at least 50 years. There are hundreds –if not thousands –of studies on this supplement. I've probably read almost a thousand studies myself. There are studies in both men and women. There are studies performed on people who lift weights and take the supplement and studies of those who do not lift weights. There are studies in athletes and nonathletes.
Does Creatine Cause Injuries
I've read a good amount of research over the years and there is one thing that I never see in any of these studies. I have never seen a 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 this supplement causes injuries?
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, Does It Cause Injuries?
So basically, people who say this supplement 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 bodies to adapt. The majority of research studies do not show increased injuries – and that may be 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 buys creatine supplement and does the loading phase (or more) for a week
- In less than a month, Bob discovers that he can lift more weight.
- Bob gets excited and starts increasing the load he lifts more than he should.
- Bob’s tendons and ligaments have not gotten stronger and so Bob gets hurt.
- Bob then tells his friends that creatine caused his injury.
After spending countless hours reading through the 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, it does not cause injuries.
That said, most people do NOT need this supplement. Unless you are working out at a very high intensity, lifting weights so heavy you can only lift them 1-2 times, you just don't need it.
What do you think?
Creatine is helpful for muscle power, however there is much to it. Some people find it reduces soreness. For me I think the extra fluid increases soreness, especially in the legs and the enhanced water means many urination visits while sleeping at night.
I do like the effects of it, and I have found that drinking whey protein while lifting helps reduce cramps and increases strength. I use the creatine after the lifts.
One of the other advantages of the creatine is that it makes stretching and flexing helpful to train the muscles. Creatine does highlight and tell you quicker if there is an injury, that is true, however that can be stopped with msm supps, vit c, cissus quadrangularis.
The other thing is you can experiment by when you take the creatine. Take it some days and see how you feel. Then don’t take it. Also, if you want greater strength, increase your vit d3 before lifts, say take 1000-2000 units. That isn’t much, but will increase strength. And drinking a light whey in between sets increases comfort both physically and mentally.
What is the purpose of creatine if we don’t lift heavier weights while on it? I thought that was the purpose.
I’m in the “injured on creatine” camp too 🙁 But then again I got injured other ways, but creatine was the fastest in terms of lifting ok one minute, then bang. Other injuries were slower and were usually due to ignoring the pain.
attatae, unless someone is lifting heavy, I dont think its needed. As for injuries, I can only say that I know this happens In the real world, but Ive never seen it occur in clinical studies. The only thing I can think of when it comes to creatine and injuries is that the body will only take so much hard core exercise and after that, bang, as you say, an injury results. Ignoring pain can also lead to further trauma. Give the injuries time to heal and remember ligaments and tendons take longer to recover than muscles, sometimes a lot longer. I hope you heal up quickly.
Try some whey protein during your lifts. Reduces cramping and helps injuries to heal. I find that creatine seems to increase the amount of protein I need and can use because it seems I’m more anabolic. I do lifts often twice a day, and although my squats aren’t progressing, my technique and muscle quality are improving.
I use msm, fish oils, multivitamin, coq10, then d3 before lifts, whey during, and creatine after, nothing else. For example, front squats up to 265 on Wed morning, then deadlifts up to 485 + push presses up to 215+ sots presses up to 145 in evening, next day crunches with weights and bar rows up to 295 x 6. I weigh 210.
I tore ligaments in my ankle playing football 3 years ago. I never had it repaired and it occasionally acts up and causes moderate discomfort. I have noticed that after a couple weeks of starting creatine supplementation that I have a significant increase in ankle joint pain.
Could this have something to do with fluid being drawn into the joint space? I have started and stopped creatine multiple times and the affect on my ankle is pretty consistent. When I stop taking creatine the ankle pain goes away. Great forum, thanks!
Steve, I wonder if you might be right about this. It does make some sense to me.
Hi love your site. Found some great info on it.
As a rock climber I see this in young new male climbers a lot and that is without using creatine.
Mostly because they get stronger fairly quickly on big holds then think ‘I can do these harder routes I’m well strong’. Jump on said harder route which inevitably has smaller hold and they pop tendons in the fingers. And then you want to scream I told you…….. Oh never mind.
Keep up the great work.
David, thanks! 🙂
Mark E. Mark says
I tore my left pec while benching on creatine. It wasn’t my max weight or anything..it was something like 165, which I was comfortable doing on my own about 4 or 5 reps. It still bothers me 6 years later. I love the gains on creatine but will never go on it again.
Mark, the body is amazingly complex so its hard to say what caused your injury. I won’t speculate what caused your injury. I’ll just say a prayer it eventually feels better.
Probably need to modify your approach. With creatine i get very sore legs, probably the fascia. I warm up with the bar on squats and snatches, a forced stretch, if you will. Once that set is done I gradually increase the weight. Generally even if I am very sorry the creatine allows me to override this soreness and do max lifts at the end.
Say my legs are sore Wed morning, I warm up on front squats with 155. Do about 6 reps. Each rep lowered HURTS. Then I rest 3 min. Then up to 205-225, do 2 sets with that. Then go up to 255 for 2 on the last set. Pause at bottom, then stand up. Then in the evening start with 335 on deadlifts for 8 then 405 for 6, 455 for 2 then 485×1.
Sip whey protein and rest 3-4 min between sets. This type of approach using very light to warm up then heavy should help the bench with creatine. Take plenty vit c and msm also after.