Athletes have to train hard to stay fit and are prone to muscle pain and inflammations. The most common form of self-treatment is to pop an NSAID (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug) like Ibuprofen.
There is no doubt that Ibuprofen does provide relief, which is why it is popular among the athletes. What most people don’t know is that while this relief is short-lived, the adverse effects of the use of Ibuprofen in such scenarios are much more dangerous.
Side Effects Of NSAIDs
If you use NSAIDs like Ibuprofen without monitoring the dosage and time, these can have adverse effects on your health. Here is a list of side effects that NSAIDs may have on your health.
- Injures the small intestine: One study conducted on the use of NSAIDs by athletes concludes that it is not harmless and that athletes should be discouraged from using Ibuprofen for exercise-induced pain. The use of Ibuprofen aggravates the exercise-induced injury in the small intestine and also induces gut barrier dysfunction even in healthy individuals.1
- Affects the bone density: Results of a study showed that taking NSAIDs before exercising can inhibit the acute increase in the bone formation.2
- Impacts the heart health: Patients suffering from hypertension or coronary artery disease should be more careful when using NSAIDs. This is because it may affect the heart further leading to further health conditions like stroke and myocardial infarction.3
- Disrupts kidney functions: NSAIDs also have an adverse effect on the kidneys. The kidneys function to absorb salt and water may be disrupted and may lead to dehydration.4
- Stresses the immune system: The immune function is also affected in athletes who consume ibuprofen for pain relief. It is linked to mild internal toxicity, kidney dysfunction, and full-body inflammation.5
Easy Alternatives To NSAIDs
A safer bet for athletes to combat exercise-induced pain would be to consider an anti-inflammatory diet. Diets which include omega 3 fatty acids and turmeric (curcumin) can help a lot in reducing the inflammation consistently. The use of curcumin is also said to offset any other performance issues due to exercise-induced muscle damage.6
A far-infrared sauna (FIRS) with mild temperature (35–50°C) and light humidity (25–35%) is highly effective in helping the body to recover from exercise-induced stress.7
So, instead of popping pills that may have negative effects on your body, in the long run, try an anti-inflammatory diet or a FIRS bath to reduce exercise-related inflammations.
Just Let It Be
Sometimes, all your body needs to recover from the pain caused due to workouts is rest. Athletes are advised to rest well and see if that helps before selecting any treatment.
There are times when, if the pain does not go away, some exercise therapy is suggested as well. Some stretch exercises or ice packs can also help in the recovery. A study conducted on the use of cryotherapy (cold treatment) suggests that it helps reduce the pain and minimizes inflammation.8
So, the next time you pick up an Ibuprofen to counter pain caused by exercise, please think again and try out the alternatives suggested here instead.
|↑1||Van Wijck, Kim, Kaatje Lenaerts, Annemarie A. Van Bijnen, Bas Boonen, Luc JC Van Loon, Cornelis HC Dejong, and Wim A. Buurman. “Aggravation of exercise-induced intestinal injury by Ibuprofen in athletes.” Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise 44, no. 12 (2012): 2257-2262.|
|↑2||Kohrt, Wendy M., Daniel W. Barry, Rachael E. Van Pelt, Catherine M. Jankowski, Pamela Wolfe, and Robert S. Schwartz. “Timing of ibuprofen use and bone mineral density adaptations to exercise training.” Journal of Bone and Mineral Research 25, no. 6 (2010): 1415-1422.|
|↑3||Bavry, Anthony A., Asma Khaliq, Yan Gong, Eileen M. Handberg, Rhonda M. Cooper-DeHoff, and Carl J. Pepine. “Harmful effects of NSAIDs among patients with hypertension and coronary artery disease.” The American journal of medicine 124, no. 7 (2011): 614-620.|
|↑4||Farquhar, W. B., A. L. Morgan, E. J. Zambraski, and W. L. Kenney. “Effects of acetaminophen and ibuprofen on renal function in the stressed kidney.” Journal of Applied Physiology 86, no. 2 (1999): 598-604.|
|↑5||Nieman, D. C. “Immune function responses to ultramarathon race competition.” Med Sportiva 13, no. 4 (2009): 189-196.|
|↑6||Jouris, Kelly B., Jennifer L. McDaniel, and Edward P. Weiss. “The effect of omega-3 fatty acid supplementation on the inflammatory response to eccentric strength exercise.” Journal of sports science & medicine 10, no. 3 (2011): 432.|
|↑7||Mero, Antti, Jaakko Tornberg, Mari Mäntykoski, and Risto Puurtinen. “Effects of far-infrared sauna bathing on recovery from strength and endurance training sessions in men.” SpringerPlus 4, no. 1 (2015): 321.|
|↑8||Weber, Kathy. “The technical benefits of icing.” (2009).|