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?