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About Ibuprofen and Exercise

September 4, 2009

In this New York Times’s story, the study conducted by physiologists from Human Performance Laboratory at North Carolina has found that

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. The ibuprofen users also showed signs of mild kidney impairment and, both before and after the race, of low-level endotoxemia, a condition in which bacteria leak from the colon into the bloodstream.

These findings are contract to what many athletes believe that using non-steroidal anti-inflammatory painkillers (or NSAIDs, including ibuprofen) would help them during the rigorous exercises or competitions. For instance, reducing pain and discomfort and even preventing soreness afterward. However, the recent studies on their physiological effect show that, “NSAIDs did not lessen people’s perception of pain during activity or decrease muscle soreness later.” Besides, the lab animal test even indicate that NSAIDS in fact slow the healing of injured muscles and tendons etc.

I don’t take painkillers during the exercise. However, I did take ibuprofen during the climb on Mt. Fuji and another hiking in Japan. At that time, I had some old injuries on my knees, so after a long climbing up & down my knees were hurting a lot. To prevent this, I sometimes even took one before the pain. So, that wasn’t a good thing to do. 😐

Last year, when I started biking on some long routes, I sometimes took some painkillers (Naproxen) during the ride when I had a headache. But later I found that this is mostly related to the dehydration. My head won’t hurt when I have enough water. I have learned that keep hydrated is very important.

Anyway, the conclusion from the above story is that: Only take NSAIDs when you have inflammation and pain from a acute injury. But not before the exercise or competition.

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