Date of Award

Fall 12-15-2010

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Dr. Dan Benardot

Second Advisor

Dr. Anita Nucci

Third Advisor

Dr. Walter Thompson


The primary objective of this study was to determine if the intake of omega-3 fatty acids (O3FA), from self-selected foods and supplements, was associated with a reduction in muscle soreness in collegiate rowers. Several groups of collegiate rowers were identified as potential subjects and, using an IRB-approved protocol, 61 volunteers from this subject pool agreed to participate in the study. At the end of the first week of fall practice, subjects were asked to provide information on age, weight, height, ethnicity, rowing level, sun exposure, exercise regimen, pre- and peak-soreness and exertion levels, hydration status, and food/supplement intake. A Talag scale was used to determine the severity of muscle soreness, and a modified Borg scale was used to determine the exertion intensity level. A food frequency questionnaire using a 10-point Likert scale was used to assess food and supplement intake, with a special focus on O3FA. Subjects with a higher intake of EPA/DHA rich bottled supplemental fish oil, taken by spoon, had significantly higher soreness levels than those with lower intakes (p = 0.028). Higher soreness was also significantly associated with higher intake of EPA/DHA rich fish oil capsules (p < 0.001). Lower soreness was significantly associated with higher fruit intake (p = 0.030). These findings suggest that high intakes of O3FA from fish oils, regardless of liquid or capsule form, may be contraindicated for collegiate rowers wishing to reduce muscle soreness. Recommending fruit intake may be warranted for rowers wishing to reduce muscle soreness.