Monday, October 11, 2010

Could you be undoing your hard work at the gym?

It is certainly not uncommon for athletes to pop a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) after a hard workout, such as ibuprofen or aspirin. However, recent research tells us that this may be hindering the healing process in the muscle; therefore, degating your hard workout.

Basically, when you perform the eccentric phase (lengthening of a muscle) of any weight lifting activity, you are inducing damage to your muscles. When the muscle fibers heal, they essentially become stronger. So, it is in the healing process that actually makes your muscles stronger. NSAIDs suppress prostaglandin synthesis, which is necessary for protein synthesis. Without protein synthesis, your muscles cannot become stronger.

In summary, think twice before popping a pill to mask some muscle soreness. Instead, take it easy, give your muscles time to heal, and consider the soreness a workout well done!

There are some cases in which you may need an NSAID; and this should be discussed with your doctor.

Just a few research articles...

Effect of ibuprofen and acetaminophen on postexercise muscle protein synthesis.

Skeletal muscle PGF(2)(alpha) and PGE(2) in response to eccentric resistance exercise: influence of ibuprofen acetaminophen.

Motivational Monday:

I strength train to keep my bones from becoming brittle and prevent osteoporosis.


  1. Given it's different mechanism of action, any negative effects of Tylenol?

  2. Busy-Dad-E: That is certainly a great point and I'm glad you brought it up. I was going to suggest acetaminophen as an alternative; however, one of the studies found no difference between the ibuprofen group and acetaminophen group. Basically the researchers were stating that acetaminophen had the same outcome on suppressing prostaglandin synthesis. It seems like there is a lot more research out there dealing with this subject and NSAIDs where there is little research looking at acetaminophen. It probably needs to be researched more. If you have pain in a particular joint, icing may be the best approach until more research is done.

  3. I'm glad you posted this because I had no idea. I am not in a habit of using medication to deal with the pain, but I have thought about it before (without knowing that it would be counterproductive).

  4. This is an issue for me. I take 2 Mobic every day and tend to add acetaminophen before or after a long walk or bike ride.