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Monday, December 17, 2012

Ibuprofen and Exercise a Bad Mix?


Few, if any,  lifters get this far without a little anti-inflammatorial help.


Take this for what it is worth. I'm not sure if the same results found with bikers and marathoners would be similar in resistance training. I have used Ibuprofen as well as other NSAIDS over the years and still do from time to time, although less now that I train to train and not to compete. I remember Lyn Jones, former coach for Team USA Weightlifting as well as Team Australia telling me that any serious lifter needs anti-inflammatories "and not the kind you give your Grandmother for arthritis". Anybody who lifts hard and heavy for any length of time will eventually become familiar with "cumulative microtrauma". That is a word that I heard, but never understood until about the age of 40. Then I began to appreciate it's meaning.
Personally I would not advise using NSAIDs (or any other substance) in order to work through a real injury. I have to admit that I have tried that too, and it is a dead end road. It leaves you with long term or even permanent damage. However using a little ibuprofen, naprosin, or even aspirin over the years to take the edge off of soreness has not had any lasting negative side effects that I can discern. Be smart and keep the dosages and length of use within reasonable limits. Don't make your recovery plan revolve around the pills. Learn to use ice, massage, contrast baths or showers, and foam rollers as well.  Eat healthy and drink a lot of water.
For years, athletes have turned to ibuprofen as a pain reliever to combat muscle soreness, with some even taking the drug before exercise as a preemptive strike against tissue inflammation. However, in a new study published in the December issue of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, researchers at Maastricht University in the Netherlands report that taking ibuprofen and similar anti-inflammatory painkillers before a workout yields no benefit, and instead may cause temporary intestinal damage. For the study, researchers tested nine healthy, active men four times at Maastricht's human performance lab. According to the New York Times: During two of the visits, the men rested languorously for an hour, although before one of the visits, they swallowed 400 milligrams of ibuprofen the night before and also the morning of their trip to the lab. (Four hundred milligrams is the recommended non-prescription dosage for adults using the drug to treat headaches or other minor pain.) During the remaining visits, the men briskly rode stationary bicycles for that same hour. Before one of those rides, though, they again took 400 milligrams of ibuprofen the night before and the morning of their workout. At the end of each rest or ride, researchers drew blood to check whether the men's small intestines were leaking. Kim van Wijck, MD, a surgical resident at Orbis Medical Center in the Netherlands who led the study, says the post-workout and post-rest checkups found that blood levels of a protein indicating intestinal leakage were much higher when bike riding was combined with ibuprofen than when the test subjects rode without the drug or took it without exercising. The testing also revealed that the protein levels remained elevated several hours after exercise and ibuprofen consumption. The findings support similar results from a 2006 study conducted by researchers from Appalachian State University. In this study, researchers found that runners at the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run who were regular ibuprofen users had small amounts of colonic bacteria in their bloodstream post-race. Ironically, this bacterial incursion resulted in "higher levels of systemic inflammation," David C. Nieman, a Professor of Health and Exercise Science at Appalachian State University, and who conducted the study, told The New York Times. According to Nieman, an ultramarathoner himself, the runners who frequently used ibuprofen ended the race with higher overall levels of bodily inflammation after the race. They also reported the same amount of post-race soreness as runners who had not taken ibuprofen beforehand. Nieman says based on the findings from these studies, athletes should reconsider taking anti-inflammatory painkillers, including ibuprofen and aspirin, before and during exercise. "The idea is just entrenched in the athletic community that ibuprofen will help you to train better and harder," Dr. Nieman told The New York Times. "But that belief is simply not true. There is no scientifically valid reason to use ibuprofen before exercise and many reasons to avoid it." According to the Times, van Wijck agrees. "We do not yet know what the long-term consequences are" of regularly mixing exercise and ibuprofen, she said. But it is clear that "ibuprofen consumption by athletes is not harmless and should be strongly discouraged."

Some pains are beyond the scope NSAIDs. You think?

2 comments:

  1. There are quite a number of studies that show NSAIDs blunt the adaptive response to training, just check Medline. That's conceptually easy to understand since inflammation is an effect of training and adaptation comes from your body overcoming this inflammation. It won't happen if NSAIDs instead of your body take up that role.

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  2. You are certainly correct in stating what the research shows and, as you say, the concept makes sense. That said, I have never met a high level lifter who wasn't using some form of anti-inflammatories for at least part of the training year. Some used large dosages for most of the year. Of course few really believe that high level athletic competition is about health.
    -O Whaley

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