Painkillers and running…

…don’t mix!


NSAIDs Interfere with Proper Training

“Ibuprofen and other NSAIDs (Non Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs), taken before or after exercise, interfere with the benefits of training for fitness and athletic competition because they delay healing of damaged muscles (British Journal of Sports Medicine, August 2009). You train for sports by taking a hard workout that damages muscles and makes them feel sore. You then take easy, less intense workouts for as long as it takes for the soreness to go away. Only then should you take intense workouts again. Swimmers take hard and easy workouts every day, but athletes in virtually all other sports allow at least 48 hours between intense workouts.

Biopsies done the day after a hard workout show bleeding into the muscle fibers and disruption of the Z-bands that hold muscle fibers together. Injured muscles release healing prostaglandins that cause collagen to be laid down in muscle fibers to make them larger and stronger. They also cause pain. NSAIDs block the training effect by blocking healing prostaglandins, thus delaying recovery and collagen production. They prevent bones, muscles, tendon and ligaments from thickening and becoming stronger.

Athletes taking NSAIDs during competition are at increased risk for bleeding into their kidneys, and for intestinal bacteria to enter their bloodstreams (Brain, Behavior and Immunity, November 2006). An estimated 60 percent of athletes competing in triathlons and other endurance events take NSAIDs because they think that it will block the pain of competition. NSAIDs have not been shown to block the pain and fatigue of competing in athletic events that require endurance.”


One Response

  1. There are more reasons as well to avoid the NSAIDS. The article gives some relatively new ones to add to the list.

    Older gets back to a basic matter: Pain is your body’s way of telling you that there is a problem. Discomfort is something, at times, to ignore or work through. But pain is something to listen to and react to. Taking painkillers before your workout or race mean that you won’t get the message until you have done much more significant damage to yourself!

    If you do need some sort of painkiller after a workout, then it’s also time to re-examine your workout and what is causing the pain before you go out again. It may take talking to a coach, or, more likely, a doctor, to resolve where your pain is coming from and what to do about it. But far better to resolve it the first day you reach for the NSAID than after some weeks of increasing pain leading to weeks of no training at all because you turned a minor matter into a significant injury.

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