Ibuprofen before and/or after your workouts…
Good idea? Bad idea?
- In surveys, up to 70 percent of distance runners and other endurance athletes report that they down the pills before every workout or competition, viewing the drug as a pre-emptive strike against muscle soreness.
- Research by Trappe et al in 2001 showed that post workout use of these drugs inhibits our natural production of a chemical necessary for muscle growth and repair. Further investigation showed that muscle protein synthesis was completely shut down when these drugs were combined with strength training.
- Past research showed that using these drugs resulted in no effect on either inflammation (Peterson et al., 2003) or muscle soreness (Trappe et al., 2002).
- In a 2006 study by Nieman et al, it was found that runners who were regular ibuprofen users had small amounts of colonic bacteria in their bloodstream.
- In a 2011 study by Van Wijck et al, they found that among healthy male cyclists all developed slight gastrointestinal damage after cycling. So these researchers set out to do another study to see if the common use of ibuprofen among these cyclists could be correlated with the GI damage. They did a second study in 2012 testing healthy males in a laboratory. Nine healthy, trained men were studied on four different occasions: 1) 400 mg ibuprofen twice before cycling, 2) cycling without ibuprofen, 3) 400 mg ibuprofen twice at rest, and 4) rest without ibuprofen intake. The results showed that both ibuprofen consumption and cycling resulted in increased I-FABP levels, reflecting small intestinal injury. Levels were higher after cycling with ibuprofen than after cycling without ibuprofen, rest with ibuprofen, or rest without ibuprofen. Their conclusion stated: “This is the first study to reveal that ibuprofen aggravates exercise-induced small intestinal injury and induces gut barrier dysfunction in healthy individuals. We conclude that nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs consumption by athletes is not harmless and should be discouraged.”
- The whole purpose of weightlifting is to cause muscle breakdown so your body will then take the muscle through an inflammatory phase where it repairs and rebuilds. This is how your muscles grow and get bigger! So if you take an NSAID you may actually be decreasing your results. You are stopping the body’s natural response to heal which may lead to longer recovery time and less muscle growth.
- NSAIDs have been shown to decrease tissue regeneration, decrease collagen repair, as well as increase gastrointestinal and kidney issues when taking them over a long period of time. So you never want to take them longer than needed.
- Taking NSAID’s before a workout is also not optimal because they are also a pain reliever. Therefore these meds can mask pain so one may workout through an injury unaware of the damage that may be occurring.
- So unless you are injured or an NSAID is prescribed by your Physician for a condition, you should probably not take an NSAID purely for the purpose of trying to avoid soreness.
So what to do about the pain from soreness?
Stay active—don’t just lie in bed or sit around all day. An active recovery will help to maintain blood flow to the affected muscles, which will aid in healing. Do a light cardio session on the bike or treadmill.