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How Ibuprofen Will Hinder Your Performance

Ibuprofen has long been the magic pill that athletes turn to in cases of injury, inflammation and the occasional hangover. Along with other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs(NSAIDs), Ibuprofen prevents the body from manufacturing prostaglandins. Prostaglandins are substances that the body naturally produces to act as mediators for a variety of physiological functions. These functions include mediating pain and inflammation, but they also protect the stomach lining and regulate blood pressure.
This article will attempt to look at how NSAIDs can affect the growth of muscle tissue, break down the lining of the stomach and the damage it can inflict on the liver.
Let’s get started.
According to Kelly Starrett, “Ibuprofen has no place in the life of the athlete obsessed with chasing performance”. NSAIDs block all prostaglandins; those that cause pain as well as those that protect the stomach lining. This can lead to upset stomachs or GI bleeding. The risks of stomach irritation and GI bleeding increases with long term use of NSAIDs.
Try these instead of Ibuprofen
Many athletes take NSAIDs with the belief that it will reduce inflammation and muscle soreness, when in reality there has not been one credible study to support these claims. In fact, multiple studies have shown that the opposite is true. Published in 2008, a study from Canada garnered the conclusion that high doses of Ibuprofen have actually been shown to inhibit muscle protein synthesis after strength training. Other studies have come up with the same results. NSAIDs have also repeatedly been shown to do nothing to prevent muscle soreness. After weeks of studies conducted on individuals, there was no detectable therapeutic benefits gained from ingesting Ibuprofen after repeated strength training sessions. It also failed to have any positive effect on muscle stiffness, relaxation of arm angles, and muscle swelling.
Damn, the Ibuprofen hasn’t kicked in yet!
While some may think that Ibuprofen can reduce inflammation, it has been shown that it has no effect on perceived soreness. In fact, it has been associated with elevated levels of inflammation and cell damage. Ibuprofen takers have also been show to have higher plasma levels of markers and macrophage inflammatory proteins for muscle damage.
On top of all of this, there is the havoc that it wreaks on the liver and stomach. I remember my former boss telling me that his doctor recommended he take two Ibuprofen every day for heart health, then 15 years later he learned that he had multiple massive kidney stones. So, as much as I want to say “ask your doctor”, it’s a crap shoot.

NSAIDs cause 3 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 (war on drugs, anyone?). Taking even small doses of Ibuprofen with trace amounts of alcohol can cause irreversible liver failure. This might be a good time to stop taking NSAIDs to nurse your hangover.

There is a huge difference between muscle soreness and actual pain. As successful athletes, it is up to you to learn the difference with your own bodies. NSAIDs are a serious drug that should not be ingested like chunks of delicious jerky. Every drug has a cost-to-benefit ratio, and the cost of Ibuprofen simply outweigh the benefits far too much. If you are having problems with soreness, try working on your recovery, taking more fish, and stop being such a pussy.

Soreness means you are doing something right.


14 thoughts on “How Ibuprofen Will Hinder Your Performance

  1. so are there any suggested medicines for muscle soreness?

  2. going to put myself on the line here and say fish oil 😉

  3. I love the ending.

  4. These are great information about Ibuprofen. Ibuprofen is known to alleviate pain. In any kind of drug, side effects are always there. This is the reason why you need to know the indications to make you aware of the possible side effects.

  5. I love the feeling of my DOMS, why would I want to get rid of it?! 😀

  6. But the hangovers!!!

  7. Quick question. How much fish oil? I usually take 1g with every meal (breakfast-lunch-dinner). Too much? Too little? Thanking you all in advance.

  8. It depends on the quality of the fish oil. What’s the DHAEPA?

  9. Oops and you also have to factor in things like how much you weigh,how good is your current diet, etc.

  10. While I genrally agree that regular ibuprofen use is a bad idea, I disagree with your assertion that it is often implicated in liver damage- in fact, NSAIDs are a rare cause of liver damage (4-8 cases/100,000 patient years of use), and most reported cases have been with diclofenac and sulindac, not ibuprofen, altho it has occurred in a few cases with ibuprofen. To say that it accounts for more cases of drug-induced liver disase than all other drugs combined is simply false- you may be confusing it with acetaminophen (as in Tylenol), which is currently the leading cause of drug-induced liver failure when taken in high doses (not an NSAID). Ibuprofen (and other NSAIDs) are a far more common cause of kidney disease and kidney failure, and kidney toxcity is increased when taken in a post-exercise, dehydrated state. And the gastrointestinal toxicity (ulcers, bleeding) is even more common.

  11. I don’t think you read the study you linked to…here’s why:

    You make a point of saying, “Published in 2008, a study from Canada garnered the conclusion that high doses of Ibuprofen have actually been shown to inhibit muscle protein synthesis after strength training.”

    However, the 2008 Canadian study YOU provided a link for in your article actually argues the opposite: “We conclude that a moderate dose of ibuprofen ingested after repeated resistance training sessions [DOES NOT] impair muscle hypertrophy or strength and does not affect ratings of muscle soreness.”

    Did you mean to link to another study? I’m just curious because this study doesn’t actually support your claim at all. I can only guess your rationalization is based on, “large,” amounts of ibuprofen. Again, YOU provided a link to a study that gave test subjects 400mg/day (hardly a large amount, and even still, found by the scientists to NOT effect hypertrophy or strength). Either you need a new study to link to that discusses these supposed, “large” quantities of ibuprofen you refer to in your article, or your data is skewed. The world awaits your update.


    “Twelve weeks of resistance training (3 days/wk) combined with daily consumption of the cyclooxygenase-inhibiting drugs acetaminophen (4.0 g/day; n = 11, 64 ± 1 yr) or ibuprofen (1.2 g/day; n = 13, 64 ± 1 yr) unexpectedly promoted muscle mass and strength gains 25-50% above placebo”

  13. C’mon son

  14. Lol. The link you provided just proved your argument incorrect.. no, not incorrect, but vague, misinformed, untrue, and based on absolutely nothing..

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