“There is no indication or rationale for the current prophylactic use of NSAIDs by athletes, and such ritual use represents misuse.”
Say what? If you’re like a lot of my friends you might want to re-think your use of vitamin I. NSAIDs might be the most commonly-used “supplement” in the sports world. The latest research indicates this should change. Check out this article from Gretchen Reynolds (who has been on a roll with cutting edge advice lately):
Phys Ed: Does Ibuprofen Help or Hurt During Exercise?
Essentially, a bevy of studies have shown that using anti-inflammatory medication to reduce exercise-induced inflammation and, hence, protect ourselves against injury doesn’t work. As the article states, this is a very common practice (A study of professional Italian soccer players found that 86 percent used anti-inflammatories during the 2002-2003 season).
In the sports world jargon, up may as well be down. Here’s an explanation:
“ Warden and other researchers have found that, in laboratory experiments on animal tissues, NSAIDs actually slowed the healing of injured muscles, tendons, ligament, and bones. “NSAIDs work by inhibiting the production of prostaglandins,”substances that are involved in pain and also in the creation of collagen, Warden says.”
I’ve always tried to limit my NSAID intake to when necessary. All drugs are hard on one human system or another, so there’s always a trade off to consider. This, however, has not meant that I used them sparingly. Like most athletes, I suffer from a lot of aches, pains, and inflammation. However I never took these to mask pain. I took them because I thought keeping inflammation at bay would reduce the odds of injury. Apparently this is false. In a study done at the Western States 100:
Those runners who’d popped over-the-counter ibuprofen pills before and during the race displayed significantly more inflammation and other markers of high immune system response afterward than the runners who hadn’t taken anti-inflammatories.
I guess this puts us right back in the no pain, no gain school of training. Next time things start to hurt a little consider this:
If “you’re taking ibuprofen before every workout, you lessen this training response,” Warden says. Your bones don’t thicken and your tissues don’t strengthen as they should. They may be less able to withstand the next workout. In essence, the pills athletes take to reduce the chances that they’ll feel sore may increase the odds that they’ll wind up injured — and sore.
Now we just need to interpret which is the good pain that we should push through, and which is the bad pain that’s hurting us.