Ibuprofen, Just say No!
Many of you may take Ibuprofen after workouts or games for soreness, you need to stop NOW.
Ibuprofen is an NSAID anti-inflammatory drug. Anti-inflammatory drugs of any kind make tendons and ligaments weaker and stop muscles from getting stronger. Got it?
For many years trainers loved Ibuprofen, it was great, you worked out, took a couple pills and you didn't feel sore. Good stuff right? Well, we were totally wrong.
Here's the nerdy stuff. Ibuprofen is an NSAID (Non-Steroidal-Anti-Inflammatory-Drug) which is believed to work through the inhibition of cyclooxygenase (COX), thus inhibiting prostaglandin synthesis. Prostaglandins, are like hormones in that they act as chemical messengers, but do not move to other sites, but work right within the cells where they are synthesized. Prostaglandins are vital mediators of the inflammatory cascade. The swelling and subsequent prostaglandin production signals all of the important cells circulating in your body to come and fix/reinforce the challenged tissues. That's right, all that soreness you feel after a game or conditioning session is the resultant swelling from all the micro-damage you've done to your muscles. It's this very inflammatory response that is responsible for making you a BETTER ATHLETE. The Worst thing you can do is to go through a horrible workout and then not reap the resultant gains from the training stimulus.
No good coach should allow their athletes to take ibuprofen at anytime. Even if they are hung over...
NSAIDs have been shown to delay and hamper the healing in all the soft tissues, including muscles, ligaments, tendons, and cartilage. Anti-inflammatories can delay healing and delay it significantly, even in muscles with their tremendous blood supply. In one study on muscle strains, Piroxicam (an NSAID) essentially wiped out the entire inflammatory proliferative phase of healing (days 0-4). At day two there were essentially no macrophages (cells that clean up the area) in the area and by day four after the muscle strain, there was very little muscle regeneration compared to the normal healing process. (Greene, J. Cost-conscious prescribing of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for adults with arthritis. Archives of Internal Medicine. 1992; 152:1995-2002.)
Long term NSAID use is hard on your tissues and directly responsible from some pretty gnarly chronic body issues.
So how do we treat acute inflammatory/inflammation pain?
You know the answer.
Ice (Maybe a little Tylenol if you really, really need it, it's not an NSAID after all) and compression.
But remember, Acetaminophen causes three times as many cases of liver failure as all other drugs combined and is the most common cause of acute liver failure in the United States. Even recommended doses especially combined with even small amounts of alcohol (Yes you ruggers) have caused irreversible liver failure. Don't be so cavalier about treating your muscle soreness with drugs. Taking pain meds of any kind is serious.
Can you see the difference between treating pain and treating inflammation? Control swelling and Pain with Ice and compression, it won't short circuit the way your body actually heals itself and becomes stronger.
Thanks to San Francisco Crossfit